Illinois Adds to the Football Coaching Staff
With the departure of Garrick MaGee as the the Offensive Coordinator, Coach Smith quickly brings on Rod Smith to replace him. Joining Coach Rod Smith on the offensive side of the ball will be new tight end coach Cory Paterson and offensive line coach Austin Clark. This will bring a diffferent and more energized look to the offense in 2018.
Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach - Rod Smith
Illinois head football coach Lovie Smith hired Rod Smith as Fighting Illini offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach on Jan. 19, 2018. Smith came to Champaign-Urbana after six seasons as co-offensive coordinator with the Arizona Wildcats.
"Rod Smith brings terrific and exciting offensive experience to our staff at Illinois," Lovie Smith said when Rod was hired. "His background and development of dual-threat quarterbacks and multiple-threat offenses is the direction we are going here. Rod has developed explosive quarterback play and offensive performance at each of his coaching stops."
Smith is bringing more than 22 years of coaching experience to Illinois and has coached in 10 bowl games. Prior to his stop at Arizona, Smith was co-offensive coordinator at Indiana (2011), quarterbacks coach at Michigan (2008-10), quarterbacks coach at West Virginia (2007), offensive coordinator at South Florida (2005-06), and quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at USF from 2001-04.
During Smith's tenure in Tucson, Arizona established a prolific offense, setting several single game and season records. In 2017, while helping the Wildcats to a 7-6 record and appearance in the Foster Farms Bowl, Smith helped lead an offense that averaged 41.3 points (5th nationally), 309.3 rushing yards, 180.2 passing yards and 489.5 total yards (12th nationally) per game. Wildcat quarterback Khalil Tate rushed for 1,411 yards (9.2 yards per carry), while completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,591 passing yards with 14 touchdowns.
Under Smith's tutelage from 2014-16, Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon completed his three-year playing career with the third-most passing touchdowns and fourth-most passing yards in UA history. In 2014, Solomon threw for 2,793 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only nine interceptions.
Smith coached quarterbacks under Rich Rodriquez at Michigan from 2008-10 and at West Virginia in 2007. He helped develop two of the most explosive signal callers in Rodriguez' offensive system, WVU's Pat White and Michigan's Denard Robinson.
Smith played under Rodriguez as a quarterback at Glenville State from 1993-96, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1997. He was an All-American and team captain his senior year. Smith received a master's degree from Urbana University (Ohio) in 2000.
Tight Ends Coach - Cory Patterson
llinois head football coach Lovie Smith hired Cory Patterson to the Fighting Illini staff as assistant coach for tight ends on Jan. 19, 2018. Patterson joined the Illini after three seasons as the highly successful head coach at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis.
"Cory Patterson is an up-and-coming star in the coaching world," Lovie Smith said when Patterson's hiring was announced. "I got to know him while he was doing an outstanding job at Trinity Catholic, and saw the coaching and leadership skills that will be a tremendous fit at the University of Illinois. He is a high-energy, highly motivated young coach."
Under Patterson, Trinity Catholic established itself as one of the top high school programs in St. Louis and the state of Missouri. He was named the Archdiocesan Athletic Association (AAA) Conference Coach of the Year all three seasons. Patterson compiled a record of 27-6 in his three seasons, and led the Titans to the 2016 Missouri state Class 2 title game. The 2017 squad was 9-1, ending their season in the state semifinals.
Illinois offensive lineman Larry Boyd, who started much of the 2017 season as a true freshman, played for Patterson at Trinity Catholic.
Patterson is a 2002 finance graduate of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. His collegiate playing career was cut short by a leg injury. Patterson also served as an assistant coach at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis and helped lead the Cadets to a state championship and two district championships.
Offensive Line Coach - Austin Clark
Austin Clark was named Fighting Illini defensive line coach on Feb. 9, 2018. Clark came to Champaign-Urbana after two seasons on the Southern Cal defensive staff, working with the Trojan defensive line and outside linebackers.
"Austin Clark came in for his interview and just blew us away with his enthusiasm and detail," Lovie Smith said when Clark was hired. "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."
Following his playing career at the University of California-Berkeley, Clark served one year with the Golden Bears as a recruiting assistant, before moving to Southern Cal as a defensive graduate assistant.
Clark, 27, spent six years (2009-14) as a defensive tackle at California, enduring an injury-plagued career. As a 2014 sixth-year senior starter, he had 22 tackles and made All-Pac-12 honorable mention while also winning Cal's Joe Roth Award (awarded to the player who best exemplifies courage, sportsmanship and attitude). He missed 2014 spring practice because of an injury.
He redshirted as a true freshman at Cal in 2009, played in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 and in 12 games off the bench as a sophomore in 2011. He was injured for most of his junior season, seeing action in only two games as a reserve, then he did not play in 2013 after he was granted a medical redshirt due to injury. Current USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast held a similar role at Cal during Clark's 2010 through 2012 seasons.
Clark received his bachelor's degree in American studies from California in 2014 and a master's degree in communication management from USC.
He prepped at Plant High in Tampa (Fla.), where he helped his team to the 2008 state championship as a senior. He made 219 tackles as a junior and senior.
He was born on Aug. 3, 1990. His sister, Adrienne, is an assistant softball coach at Connecticut after previously serving as an assistant at Delaware, Columbia and her alma mater Hofstra, where she starred as a pitcher (she once went 31.0 consecutive innings in the NCAA tourney without allowing a run, second most in NCAA history).