Illinois assistant Gill Byrd leaves program; 2 others join

Illinois defensive passing game coordinator and safeties coach Gill Byrd said Friday he is leaving the program because of an unspecified illness in his family.

Byrd, who worked with head coach Lovie Smith for three NFL teams, coached at Illinois for two seasons.

“Gill Byrd is like a brother to me,” Smith said. “As good a coach as he is on the field, Gill is even a better person. I hope for nothing but the best for Gill and his family. We will miss him greatly around our program.”

Smith said Keynodo Hudson will coach all defensive backs next season after coaching the cornerbacks in 2019

Alfred Davis (defensive tackles coach) and Jimmy Lindsey (defensive ends) will join the program. Davis spent the past two seasons at Hutchinson Community College while Lindsey spent the last three seasons at Western Kentucky.

Illinois is coming off a 6-7 season that included three straight losses, but Smith and others are optimistic after reaching a bowl game and putting together a four-game winning streak highlighted by an upset of then-No. 6 Wisconsin.

The Illini open the season Sept. 4 against Illinois State.