Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Jon Tenuta among three new Illinois hires
By Brian Bennett
New Illinois coach Tim Beckman has added three assistants to his staff, including coaching veteran Jon Tenuta as his defensive coordinator.
Tenuta coached linebackers the past two years at NC State. He has been defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Kansas State, among other stops. He's also familiar with the Big Ten from his time at Ohio State, where he served as defensive backs coach from 1996-2000 and defensive coordinator in 2000.
Tenuta's defenses at Georgia Tech from 2002 to 2007 were often among the best in the country, but he was not as successful at Notre Dame. In his second season in South Bend, the Irish ranked 86th nationally in total defense and their inability to stop anybody helped lead to head coach Charlie Weis' firing.
Tenuta is known for liking aggressive blitzing schemes, which sometimes can be seen as a gambling style. Beckman will have to hope Tenuta can maintain the level of defensive production the unit turned in under former coordinator Vic Koenning, who turned down a chance to stay on staff. Though star defensive end Whitney Mercilus is skipping his senior year for the draft, the Illini still have talent on defense. Linebacker Jonathan Brown in particular could thrive under Tenuta.
The other two new assistants are Chris Beatty and Luke Butkus. Their roles have not been specified, though Butkus is expected to coach the offensive line.
Beatty spent the past season at Vanderbilt as wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator. Before that, he worked three seasons at West Virginia as running backs/slot receivers coach and recruiting director. Beatty was well regarded in Morgantown as a strong recruiter and up-and-coming coach.
Butkus is well known to Illlini fans, as he was a three-year starting center for the program from 1999-2001. He was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree who was on the 2001 Sugar Bowl team. Butkus has worked the past five seasons in the NFL, the last two with the Seattle Seahawks as a quality control assistant with the offensive line. He was also an assistant offensive line coach for three seasons with the Chicago Bears from 2007-09. It never hurts to have a guy named Butkus on your staff, especially in Illinois.
Beckman had previously announced that defensive line coach Keith Gilmore will stay on staff, while he hired Alex Golesh and Mike Ward from Toledo. He still has three open coaching spots, including offensive coordinator.