Bret Bielema, head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini, has bolstered his staff with the addition of special teams analyst Chris Hurd. Hurd brings nearly two decades of experience in college football, having spent last season with the Arkansas Razorbacks and the eight seasons prior as a special teams coordinator.
Hurd’s coaching experience includes stints with Akron and UT-Chattanooga, where he also coached running backs, and Florida Atlantic, where he coached tight ends. He’ll add valuable perspective to Bielema’s staff, as the Illini look to build on their 6-7 record from the previous season.
As a special teams coordinator, Hurd has overseen multiple kickoff and punt return touchdowns, as well as blocked field goals and punts. He’ll work with the Illini’s special teams unit to improve their field position and create more opportunities for game-changing plays.
Last season, the Illini’s special teams unit ranked in the middle of the pack nationally, with a punt return average of 7.4 yards and a kickoff return average of 20.8 yards. Hurd’s expertise will undoubtedly help the team improve those numbers and become a more well-rounded squad.
Bielema has been busy making changes to his staff since taking over as head coach in 2021. He’s brought in a mix of experienced coaches and up-and-coming talent, all with the goal of improving the team’s performance on the field. Hurd’s addition is the latest move in that effort.
The Illini will kick off their 2023 campaign in just a few short months, and with Hurd on board, they’ll be looking to improve on their record from the previous season. Fans can expect an exciting brand of football, with a hard-working special teams unit that will be looking to make game-changing plays.