CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois outside linebacker coach Kevin Kane discussed several topics in his Zoom media conference with statewide and local media after two days of spring practice.
Kane joined the Illinois staff as associate head coach/outside linebackers coach in January 2021.
Kane reunites with Illinois head coach Bret Bielema following three seasons leading a stingy defense at SMU as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Kane joined the SMU staff in 2018 and in his first two seasons led the Mustangs to several national top 25 rankings, including the No. 1 ranking for sacks per game (3.92) and No. 3 ranking in tackles for loss (8.5 avg) in 2019.
He made the move to SMU after spending the 2016 and 2017 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois. That was his second stint at NIU, having served in multiple capacities for the Huskies from 2011-14. During the 2015 season, Kane coached linebackers at Kansas.
Kane helped the Huskies to five bowl appearances during his time in DeKalb, including a win in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl over Arkansas State, and three MAC Championships. The Huskies ranked 26th in the nation in total defense in 2017, leading the nation in tackles for loss (8.8) and ranking second in sacks (3.31) and fourth in defensive TDs (5). NIU ranked seventh nationally in yards per play allowed at just 4.52, trailing only Alabama, Clemson, Wisconsin, Washington, Ohio State and Michigan.
NIU also ranked in the top 20 in third down conversion percentage defense (11th), rushing defense (16th) and first downs allowed (19th). In 2016, NIU ranked 17th nationally and led the MAC in red zone defense.
Kane made the move to NIU after three seasons (2008-10) at Wisconsin, serving as a graduate assistant (2008-09) and quality control assistant (2010) under Bielema. While at Wisconsin, the Badgers earned berths to the 2008 and 2009 Champs Sports Bowls and 2011 Rose Bowl.
His coaching career began in 2006 at Kansas, where he spent two seasons as a student assistant for his alma mater. He helped the Jayhawks to the 2008 Orange Bowl under Mark Mangino.
A 2006 graduate of Kansas, Kane played linebacker for the Jayhawks, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention accolades from the Associated Press as a junior and senior. He helped Kansas to a pair of bowl appearances, including a win in the 2005 Fort Worth Bowl. Kane was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and was named team captain as a senior. He graduated from Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, where he helped lead the Hawklets to a Missouri state championship as a junior. Kane earned his master's degree in education at Wisconsin in 2010.