Lovie Smith reportedly adds former Illinois LB to Houston Texans staff
Former Illinois linebacker and All-B1G selection Dele Harding has landed a job on Lovie Smith’s staff with the Houston Texans. Matt Zenitz of On 3 reported the news on Saturday morning.
Harding played for Smith at Illinois from 2016-19. He was a two-time team captain for the Fighting Illini and was named a first-team All-B1G linebacker as a senior.
According to the report, Harding will be a defensive assistant for the team. It’s unclear what specifically his role will be for the upcoming season.
Lovie Smith has added one of his former standout players from Illinois to his Houston Texans coaching staff.
Dele Harding, a first-team All-Big Ten linebacker in 2019, has been hired by the Texans as a defensive assistant, a source tells @on3sports.https://t.co/k5bN5NhJoE
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) February 19, 2022
Harding racked up an incredibly 153 tackles in 2019, his final season in Champaign. He was also credited with 14.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 3 pass break-ups and 3 forced fumbles.
Over the course of his career with the Fighting Illini, Harding compiled 235 stops and 21 tackles for loss.
Smith was terminated as the head coach at Illinois before the team’s final game of the 2020 season. He led the program to just one bowl game in five years.
Last year, Smith was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans. He was hired to be the next head coach shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.