OLB Coach Clint Sintim Completes Bielema’s 2024 Illini Coaching Staff 

Clint Sintim has been hired to be Illinois’ third outside linebackers coach in the last three seasons under Illini head coach Bret Bielema.

Matt Stevens, IlliniGuys Staff Writer

March 10, 2024

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois football coaching staff is now complete.

Former Virginia assistant coach Clint Sintim has been named the Illini’s newest outside linebackers coach after agreeing to leave his alma mater to join Bret Bielema’s staff in Champaign with just over a week before spring practice is slated to begin.

Sintim's contract is pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its next meeting in March.

“I am excited about what Coach Sintim will bring to our program and our outside linebackers room," Bielema said via a written statement for the university release. “Coach Sintim's experiences as a player at Virginia, then with the New York Giants, and now in coaching, will bring tremendous value to our team, as well as our recruiting in the state of Illinois and the East Coast.”

Sintim spent the previous four years as a defensive coach at Virginia under two different head coaches as he was in charge of the defensive line unit under then-head coach Bronco Mendenhall from 2020-21, before switching to the team's linebackers coach from 2022-23 when former Clemson assistant coach Tony Elliot took over the Cavaliers program.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the Illinois football program under Coach Bielema's leadership," Sintim said via a written statement from the university release. "During my interview, I had a great feeling about the team and staff. My wife, Angie, and our children are excited to begin this next chapter in Champaign.”

Clint Sintim courtesy of his X page.

Sintim replaces Charlie Bullen, who left Bielema’s staff after just one season to return to coaching pass rushers in the National Football League as he was hired by the New York Giants last month. Sintim will be the third outside linebackers coach at Illinois in the last three seasons with Bielema’s first hire to that position being Kevin Kane, who left with former Illini defensive coordinator Ryan Walters to Purdue after Aaron Henry was chosen to be Walters’ replacement to lead the Illini defense.

“(New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll) called me said, ‘Hey, I got a question, but I don’t think you’re going to like this one as much,’” Bielema said on Friday. “They wanted to talk to Charlie, and of course, I didn’t want to deter anybody from things that are in front of them. Charlie did an incredible job for us. So, he interviewed, and that was over in about two hours.”

When asked by IlliniGuys.com during the Illini Pro Day on Friday inside the Irvin Indoor Facility, Bielema stated he anticipated this hire would be forthcoming in the next few days in order to get his 10 assistant coaches set for spring practice, which is slated to begin on March 19.

“I’ll fill it when I fill it,” Bielema said on Friday. “I think we’ll have somebody if not by the end of this weekend by early next week, but we’re gone next week anyway [University of Illinois spring break began this weekend]. Whoever it ends up being, we’ll get him in here early. Aaron [Henry] and I and [Illinois defensive line coach Terrance Jamison] will talk to him and work with him before we start spring ball.”

Sintim is a 10-year veteran in college coaching, which has followed his All-American playing career at Virginia and four years in the NFL. After playing in the 2009 Senior Bowl, Sintim was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons for the Giants, before a knee injury sidelined him for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Sintim announced his retirement as a player in 2013, after an NFL career that included a Super Bowl XLVI championship when New York defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Indianapolis.

Sintim was the primary recruiter and position coach for Virginia true freshman linebacker Kam Robinson before, during and after he earned Freshman All-America honors. Robinson, a three-star linebacker from Tappahannock, Virginia who chose his home state school over scholarship offers from Florida State, South Carolina, Mississippi, Penn State and Tennessee, made eight starts and appeared in all 12 games for the Cavaliers in 2023, ranking third among FBS true freshmen in tackles with 71, which led all Atlantic Coast Conference true freshmen. Robinson added 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four quarterback hurries, and two interceptions, including a pick-6 against then-No. 11 Louisville on Nov. 9 to tie the game at 14-14 in the third quarter.

Sintim helped the Virginia defense make big improvements in 2022, including All-ACC linebacker Nick Jackson. Virginia ranked No. 3 in the ACC in pass defense, No. 5 in average sacks per game and No. 5 in passing efficiency. The Cavaliers ranked No. 24 in the nation in yards per play (4.97) and were 29th in points surrendered per possession. In the 2022 matchup with Georgia Tech, the defense racked up eight sacks, the second-highest single-game total in program history. Jackson, who led the ACC and ranked ninth in the nation with 10.4 tackles per game, was Virginia's defensive MVP.

Sintim's defensive line helped Virginia finish No. 11 in the nation with 3.2 sacks per game in 2020. Virginia's 32 sacks ranked No. 6 all-time on the program's single-season list, as 9.5 of those sacks were registered by defensive linemen.

The highest ranked signee, according to the 247Sports.com database, that Sintim has been the primary recruiter on was 2021 four-star defensive end Bryce Carter from Life Christian Academy in Chester, Virgina. Carter was a top 100 national prospect and received competitive offers from Florida, Penn State, Texas A&M and Michigan State before staying home with the Cavaliers program. Carter has transitioned into a defensive tackle for Virginia and injuries have prevented him from playing more than 12 games over the last three seasons.

Sintim returned to his alma mater after spending the previous three seasons as the linebackers/defensive ends coach at Delaware from 2017-19. He helped the 2018 team return to the FCS Playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. He also helped the Blue Hens land their best recruiting class in the program's history in 2020. It was Delaware's second consecutive top-10 FCS class, according to HERO Sports.

Sintim coached the linebackers and defensive ends at Richmond during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In each of Sintim's two seasons at Richmond, the Spiders won 10 games and advanced to the NCAA playoffs, reaching the national semifinals in 2015 and the quarterfinals in 2016.

Sintim was a four-year player at Virginia and served as a team captain as a senior in 2008. He was a second-team All-ACC selection and received All-America honors from Phil Steele and Pro Football Weekly as a senior. Sintim finished his Virginia career with 245 tackles, including 29 sacks and 46 tackles for loss, while playing in 49 games. His sack total ranks as the second highest in Virginia history, and his tackles for loss number is tied for the third most by a Cavalier.

In 2005, Sintim picked up freshman All-American honors by the Sporting News (third team) and was also named to that organization's ACC All-Freshman Team. He received Virginia's Bill Dudley Award as the program's most outstanding first-year player. Sintim led the nation's linebackers in sacks as both a junior and senior, accumulating nine in each season.

After his retirement as a player, Sintim spent the 2014 season with the West Alabama Tigers as the outside linebackers coach and assisted with the special teams as part of the NFL Players Association Coaching Internship Program. Prior to the 2016 season, Sintim took part in the NFL Minority Internship Program and worked with the Washington Redskins during their preseason camp.

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