Zook getting ample interest in Locksley's old job

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Mike Locksley's departure to become head coach at New Mexico leaves Illinois without its offensive architect and top recruiter. Arguably no assistant coach in the Big Ten brought in a better recruiting haul than Locksley, who landed wide receiver Arrelious Benn, cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive end Will Davis, among others.

But Illini head coach Ron Zook won't have trouble finding a replacement at offensive coordinator. Zook's phone has been flooded with calls the last 48 hours, including recommendations from Georgia head coach Mark Richt, former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer and Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall.

Hmmm, I wonder who Hall is pushing for the job (Jay Paterno?). Nothing against Fulmer, but Zook should be a little leery of hiring anyone associated with Tennessee's offense this season.

"What makes you busy is that it's a job that a lot of people want," Zook said. "It makes you feel good because people have taken notice, they've seen the progress we've made and they realize we've got some talent here. Now, we've just got to coach it up and get them ready to where they're supposed to be."

Locksley doesn't expect to bring "major guys" from the Illinois staff with him to New Mexico. If Zook chooses to stay in house, wide receivers coaches Jim Pry and Kurt Beathard, both of whom have offensive coordinator experience, would be top candidates.

Though Locksley served as a mentor for quarterback Juice Williams and others, Zook assured his players Tuesday that "nothing's going to change."

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