Mike Gillhamer
Mike Gillhamer

Secondary Coach

1 Season (2011)

Alma Mater:
Humboldt State, 1976


  • Helped lead an Illinois defense that ranked in the top-10 nationally in total defense and passing defense in 2011 
  • 21 years of collegiate coaching experience 
  • 11 years of NFL coaching experience 
  • Helped Oregon to 2001 Fiesta Bowl victory and No. 2 national ranking

    Mike Gillhamer spent one year on the Illinois staff as the secondary coach after seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers, where he worked with the safeties. He has 21 years of college coaching experience and 11 years in the NFL.

    Gillhamer's expertise showed immediately with the Illini secondary, which helped lead Illinois to a No. 4 national ranking in pass defense in 2011. His four starters in the secondary all rank in the top nine on the team in tackles.

    In his first season with Carolina in 2004, his tutelage played a role in the Panthers' defense that led the NFL with a team-record 26 interceptions and ranked second in the league with 38 takeaways.

    Prior to his stint with the Panthers, he was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Louisville in 2003, and secondary coach at Oregon from 2001-02, helping the Ducks to a Fiesta Bowl victory and final national ranking of No. 2 in 2001. He coached on the same 2003 Louisville staff as current Illini offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and started his collegiate playing career at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., under Petrino's father, Bob.

    Gillhamer began his NFL coaching career as an offensive assistant with the New York Giants in 1997, assisting with the Giants' running backs during his first three seasons before taking over as the running backs coach in 2000, when the Giants advanced to the Super Bowl and ranked third in the NFC in rushing.

    Gillhamer broke into coaching at the College of Sequoias in Visalia, Calif., from 1979-83, overseeing the defensive line for one season before coaching the defensive backs for the remainder of his tenure. He was then the defensive backs coach at Weber State in 1984, Utah from 1985-89 and San Jose State from 1990-93. Gillhamer moved to Nevada from 1994-95, where he handled the secondary in his first season and served as the defensive coordinator in 1995. He also worked as the secondary coach at Rutgers in 1996. Gillhamer served as a guest assistant coach with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League in 1988.

    A native of Fresno, Calif., Gillhamer played defensive back at Carroll (Mont.) College in 1972, Wenatchee (Wash.) Junior College in 1973 and Humboldt (Calif.) State from 1974-75, where he was named the team's most valuable defensive back as a senior. He also played baseball and ran track for the Lumberjacks. After graduating with a degree in physical education from Humboldt State in 1976, he received his master's degree in special education from there in 1981.

    Gillhamer has two daughters, Meagen and Taylor.

    Gillhamer has two daughters, Meagen and Taylor.

    Gillhamer Coaching History

    1979     College of the Sequoias, Defensive Line
    1980-83  College of the Sequoias, Secondary
    1984     Weber State, Secondary
    1985-89  Utah, Secondary
    1990-93  San Jose State, Secondary
    1994     Nevada, Secondary
    1995     Nevada, Defensive Coordinator
    1996     Rutgers, Secondary
    1997-99  New York Giants, Offensive Assistant
    2000     New York Giants, Running Backs
    2001-02  Oregon, Secondary
    2003     Louisville, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
    2004-10  Carolina Panthers, Safeties
    2011     Illinois, Secondary

    (updated 1/3/12)