CHAMPAIGN – Greg Colby is returning to familiar territory.
Illinois Coach Tim Beckman announced Tuesday that Colby, who was an assistant at Illinois from 1988-95, will return to the Illini staff as defensive line coach to fill the role left vacant by Keith Gilmore, who left for North Carolina last month.
“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to come back,” Colby said. “When I left and went to Michigan State in 1995, it was the intention to improve my coaching skills and come back here at some point in time, possibly finish my career here, and it has worked out. I’m going to do everything I can to help Coach Beckman take this program back to where it belongs, and in the short time I’ve been back on campus, I’m very confident that’s going to happen.”
Most recently, Colby served as head coach for five seasons at Millersville University, a Division II institution located in Millersville, Pa. After leaving Illinois in 1995, Colby was an assistant at Michigan State and served as defensive coordinator at Kent State and Northwestern.
Before his time with the Illini, which included the 1989 Big Ten Championship and six bowl appearances in seven seasons, Colby enjoyed a successful high school coaching career in the state of Illinois. He was head coach at Danville Schlarman High and Naperville High, amassing a 49-15 record and winning two state titles (both with Danville).
Colby played football and baseball at Illinois, lettering three years in each sport and serving as the captain of the baseball team in 1974.
"Greg Colby brings a wealth of coaching experience and Fighting Illini historical football knowledge to our staff," Beckman said. "Greg grew up in Danville, was a great student-athlete at Illinois, was on the coaching staff here for eight years, and has worked at several different successful programs since. He has built some outstanding relationships with his extensive recruiting experience in the Chicagoland area. Greg understands what it means to be a Fighting Illini football player and what it takes to be successful here. I have no doubt our players will respond very positively to him as a coach and as a person."
Colby is the third new member added to the staff since the conclusion of the 2012 season. He joins offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and offensive line coach Jim Bridge as additions, all of which have upgraded the experience of the staff as a whole.
The Illini are still in search of a replacement for wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, who reportedly left the staff last week.
Illinois will begin spring practice March 5, with the annual Spring Game scheduled for April 12.