For the most recent hire to his Illinois coaching staff, Lovie Smith decided to go young. Really, really, really young.
Following up on reports from earlier in the week, the Fighting Illini confirmed that Austin Clark has been hired by Smith as his new defensive line coach. Clark spent the last two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at USC, working specifically with both the Trojans’ defensive line and linebackers.
At 27 years old — he’ll be 28 in August — Clark is one of the youngest on-field assistants at the FBS level.
“Austin Clark came in for his interview and just blew us away with his enthusiasm and detail,” Smith said in a statement. “He brings an outstanding attitude and high level of energy to our program. Our players are going to love working with Austin. He is extremely detailed and has a plan for each of the guys on the defensive line. Austin gained some great experience in his previous position, and will be a terrific addition to our staff.”
Clark began his coaching career in 2015 as a recruiting assistant at his alma mater Cal, where he played defensive tackle for six injury-plagued years from 2009-14.