A familiar face is returning to Illinois to take over as the director of recruiting.

On Wednesday, head coach Bret Bielema announced that he has hired Nathan McNeal to be the football program’s director of recruiting. He returns to the Illini program after spending the past two seasons as the director of player personnel at Temple. Per a release from FightingIllini.com, McNeal oversaw all recruiting efforts for the program.

McNeal was a member of the Illinois program from 2016-18 under head coach Lovie Smith. He was the director of high school relations for those three seasons in Champaign.

McNeal played at Northern Illinois from 2011-13 and appeared in 16 total games with the Huskies.

Since taking the job at Illinois, Bielema has made it clear that his primary focus is to recruit the state of Illinois and keep in-state talent at home. That’s been an area of concern for the program recently, and the new staff will be charged with addressing those issues.

The 2021 season will mark the first year under Bielema as head coach. The Fighting Illini open the year in Week 0 against Nebraska.