- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has hired former NFL cornerback Donnie Abraham as a defensive assistant coach.

Abraham was defensive coordinator at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida from 2015-16. He will work primarily with the safeties at Illinois.

Smith said Abraham was a “great player” during his NFL career and picked up experience coaching high school football in Florida. He said Abraham will be helpful in implementing the staff’s defensive philosophies.

Abraham played nine seasons in the NFL, including six in Tampa Bay when Lovie Smith was linebackers coach and Illini defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson was a Pro Bowl linebacker.

Abraham spent three seasons with the New York Jets before retiring from the NFL in 2004.

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