When Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips decided to let TE coach Steve Ortmayer go, he quickly brought in Wildcat alum Greg Nord to fill the vacancy. That leaves a position open at Illinois, and the coaching tree has come up with three potential replacements:
Cheston Blackshear is currently the TE coach at New Mexico, where former Illini offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is the head coach. Blackshear spent one year as a graduate assistant under Ron Zook at Illinois in 2005 after three years as a GA under Zook at Florida. If offered, Blackshear's decision would likely come down to who he is more loyal to - Zook or Locksley.
Chip Long is a graduate assistant specializing in tight ends at Arkansas under head coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino's brother, Paul, is the offensive coordinator at Illinois after two years at Arkansas. In addition to two years as a GA in Fayetteville, Chip Long also worked under Paul Petrino and current Illini QB coach Jeff Brohm at Louisville. Long played tight end at North Alabama from 2002-2005.
Matt Wells, like Cheston Blackshear, coaches under former Illini offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at New Mexico. Wells, who coaches the wide receivers, spent the '09 season at Louisville after two years at New Mexico. He was not retained when Locksley was named head coach, but was hired back for 2010. Current Illinois RB coach DeAndre Smith coached with Wells in 2008 at UNM. Wells also has ties to OC Paul Petrino, who was an assistant at Utah State from 1995-97. Matt Wells is a Utah State alum, where he was a QB from 1993-96. Wells does have experience working with tight ends, as he was the TE coach at Tulsa for five years prior to his first stint at New Mexico.
Update: Chip Long, according to footballscoop.com, will be named as Illinois' new TE coach.