- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After failing to land Penn State recruiting whiz Larry Johnson, Illinois head coach Ron Zook has found another top assistant for his defensive line vacancy.
As my colleague Brian Bennett reported, Zook will hire Cincinnati defensive line coach Keith Gilmore for the same position at Illinois. Gilmore replaces Tom Sims, who was fired last month.
Gilmore has a good track record under Brian Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati, where former tight end Connor Barwin emerged as a star this season, tying for the Big East lead in sacks (11). Cincinnati led the Big East in team sacks with 38 this fall.
So this appears to be a solid hire for Illinois.
The more interesting development might be what happens between Zook and co-defensive coordinators Curt Mallory and Dan Disch. Zook had offered the defensive coordinator position to Johnson, who turned down a sizable pay raise to remain at Penn State. Whether Zook downgrades Mallory's and/or Disch's responsibilities remains to be seen after the Illini strugged on the defensive side of the ball.
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5dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy