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Illinois Football Announces Wide Receiver Coaching Hire

A much-needed big hire for Bret Bielema after losing former receiver’s coach George McDonald to Ole Miss



Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (IMAGIN)

Illinois Football Announces Wide Receiver Coaching Hire

On Thursday, Illinois football announced the Hiring of Justin Stepp to fill the wide receivers coaching vacancy. A much-needed big hire for Bret Bielema after losing former receiver’s coach George McDonald to Ole Miss. Previously, Stepp spent 3 seasons as a Tight Ends coach at South Carolina. Prior to his time with the Gamecocks, Justin spent the 2018-2020 seasons at Arkansas. During his time in the monster that is the SEC, Stepp was able to develop a handful of receivers who currently find themselves on an NFL roster. Six to be exact, with just as many having over 500-yard production seasons. Stepp has found himself in the coaching world since 2007 when he was named the receivers coach at Fort Mill High School in South Carolina. The 40-year-old is a native of Pelion, South Carolina.

Statement from Bielema

“I have admired Coach Stepp’s career from afar and I am excited to welcome him to our Illini famILLy. His relationships-driven leadership has led to an enormous amount of success in recruiting and developing NFL-caliber wide receivers. I am excited to see the impact his passion will have on our building. He and his wife, Brooke, and their two children are going to be great additions to our football famILLy and the Illinois community.”

Statement From Lunney

“I was extremely impressed with Justin’s passion and knowledge for the receiver position when I worked with him for two years. He is full of energy, a relentless recruiter, and has a unique ability to create meaningful relationships with his student-athletes. I can’t wait to reunite with him here in Champaign.”

Stepp’s Statement

“I can’t wait to get to Champaign and join Coach Bielema, Coach Lunney, and everyone in the Illinois football famILLy.” said Stepp. He also quoted “I have always been impressed with the tough, smart way Coach Bielema’s teams play the game. I am excited to get to work with the great staff and student-athletes within the program.”

What it Means?

George McDonald was a good coach.  Helping to develop players like Isaiah Williams, Casey Washington and Pat Bryant to take that next step forward. Not to mention bringing in players like Malik Elzy, Ashton Hollins, Kenari Wilcher, Eian Pugh and Hank Beatty. Which, is going to be a very important puzzle piece to the future success of this program. Development of these players to take the same strides as Isaiah, Pat, and Casey will be very important. You could not afford to make a hire here that was to be a step down, and Illinois seems to have made a good decision. Oh, and did I mention SEC experience? Bringing unique concepts and mindsets from successful programs to implement at Illinois. I am sure the young talent pool that Illinois has in this receiver room will be excited to delve into these new ideas.

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Kirkland is a go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He is the lead Football analyst at Armchair Illini and has been featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, Yard Barker, Autograph, Newsbreak, CBS Sports and more.