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January 26, 2013Word has started leaking out Saturday afternoon that North Carolina has made its hire to replace Deke Adams, as Keith Gilmore, most recently of Illinois, will be making his way to Chapel Hill, per multiple sources, to become UNC's next defensive line coach.
Gilmore's name has been tossed around for a couple of weeks now as a potential successor to David Duggan, who was the first coach from the 2012 UNC staff to take another job, leaving around the first of the year to return to Southern Mississippi as defensive coordinator.
But with Adam's sudden departure to South Carolina Gilmore has become even more of a priority for Larry Fedora, who relied heavily on input from his own staff, including Vic Koenning, to make this critical hire.
A native of Detroit, Gilmore played his college football at Wayne State in the mid-1980s, and soon after embarked on a coaching career that in 2013 will go into its 29th season.
Most of Gilmore's coaching experience has been in the Midwest at spots including Wayne State (1985-1987, 1994), Michigan State (1988), Northern Michigan (1989-1990) Grand Valley State (1991-1993), Eastern Michigan (1995-1997), Central Michigan (2006), Cincinnati (2007-2008), and Illinois (2009-2012).
But he does have familiarity with the East Coast, having coached and recruited in Virginia's Tidewater region at Norfolk State from 1998 to 2001, as well as Washington D.C. at Howard University from 2002 to 2005.
With UNC looking to replace two coaches with solid out-of-state recruiting credentials---Duggan in the Northeast and Adams in the Southeast---Gilmore will be looking to use his vast experience and connections to aid the Tar Heels recruiting up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
While we suspect Gilmore will likely recruit for UNC in Virginia and the D.C. area, we also figure he may recruit some of Adams' old territories in Atlanta as well.
From a purely coaching standpoint, this appears to be a big-time hire for Carolina.
Gilmore reunites with Vic Koenning, who he worked with at Illinois in 2010 and 2011 as they put together one of the stronger Illini defensive units in recent memory.
In 2010, with Koenning serving as defensive coordinator and Gilmore as defensive line coach, the Illini held five opponents to 100 or fewer rushing yards.
The defensive line was anchored by 2011 NFL first round pick Corey Liuget and Rivals.com Freshman All-American Akeem Spence, who between them combined for 108 tackles that fall.
In 2011 Illinois featured first-team All-American defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who became Gilmore's second first round NFL Draft selection in as many years when he was taken this past spring No. 26 overall by the Houston Texans.
Mercilus, under Gilmore's guidance, led the nation in sacks with 16 in 2011, and added nine forced fumbles, which set a new Big Ten single-season record. He earned the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end.
In all, Gilmore has now coached 11 different players over his career who have gone on to become first round NFL Draft picks---certainly a feather in his cap as he hits the recruiting trail for the Tar Heels.
In their final game working together before Koenning moved on to UNC, Gilmore, Mercilus, and the rest of the Illini put on a defensive clinic against UCLA in the Fight Hunter Bowl on New Year's Eve 2011, holding the Bruins to just 18 rushing yards.
The 20-14 triumph, which came with Koenning serving as interim head coach, was the first time in Illinois school history in which the Illini won bowl games in consecutive seasons.
Gilmore also reunites with Lou Hernandez, who was also at Illinois before coming to UNC as strength coach upon Fedora's arrival.
Stay tuned to Tar Heel Illustrated for much more on Gilmore's hire as more light is shed on the situation.