Illinois football is welcoming Justin Hardee back to Champaign for the Week 11 game against Purdue. A familiar face will be back in town.

Hardee played for Illinois from 2012-2016, appearing in 49 career games for the Fighting Illini.

Hardee was signed by the Houston Texans as an un-drafted free agent from the 2017 NFL Draft class. He has also spent time with the New Orleans Saints (2017-2020) and New York Jets (2021-present).

It looks like Hardee has shifted to a special teams role since making it to the NFL. In 81 career games Hardee has 68 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.

The Fighting Illini are taking on the Boilermakers on Saturday. Purdue has won the last two games of the series against Illinois. Illinois has a two game lead over Purdue in the B1G West.

Kickoff from Champaign will be at noon ET on ESPN2. Will Hardee’s return be enough to inspire Illinois to break its losing streak to Purdue?