Illinois football promotes Mike Bellamy to wide receivers coach

The Illinois football team promoted former assistant director of player personnel and relations Mike Bellamy to wide receivers coach, filling the vacancy left by the departed Billy Gonzales. Bellamy is a former All-American kick returner for Illinois and the fourth newcomer to join the Illini coaching staff this offseason.

“I can’t explain how excited I am for this opportunity to coach at Illinois,” Bellamy said. “I always say there are three places that I call home — my family’s house, my mother’s house and Memorial Stadium. As an alum, I think it’s important to teach our players what it means to wear the orange and blue.”

In his first year back in Champaign last season, Bellamy coordinated events with former players, assisted with recruiting and coordinated all functions with Block I, fraternities and sororities. He also helped run the annual Illinois high school coaching clinic. 

He fills the void in head coach Tim Beckman’s staff left by Gonzales, who left to become the wide receivers coach at Mississippi State after just one season in Champaign.

“I’ve had a chance to observe Mike over the past year,” Beckman said. “The job he did coordinating campus recruiting visits, maintaining communications with our former players and engaging with the current team was outstanding. He has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the wide receiver position, and as a former Fighting Illini player, an immense amount of pride and passion for the institution.”

Bellamy played two seasons for the Illini and was a second-team All-American as a kick returner in 1989, his final season. He was also named first-team All-Big Ten as a wide receiver that year. His 28.7-yard kick return average that season ranks second in school history. He still holds the Illinois single-game kick return record of 170 yards, set against Indiana on Nov. 18, 1989. Bellamy was also inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association in 2007 for his accomplishments at the College of DuPage, which he attended before coming to Illinois.

Bellamy was drafted in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent two seasons with the Eagles and played four more years in the NFL with the Colts, Bears and Raiders. Bellamy also played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football for two seasons, winning the World Bowl in 1996.

Bellamy joins the Illini staff following the hirings of offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, offensive line coach Jim Bridge and defensive line coach Greg Colby.

He takes over a wide receiver corps that returns all its key contributors but struggled through much of 2012. The passing game as a whole managed only 2,026 yards on the season and just three receivers found the endzone more than once. The Illini will have to find consistent options downfield for quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase if they want to improve on a last-place finish in the Big Ten.

Sean can be reached at sphammo2@dailyillini.com and @sean_hammond.