CHARLESTON (WCIA) — Former Eastern Illinois defensive tackle and assistant coach Chris Wilkerson was introduced Friday as the 26th head football coach in Panthers history.

Wilkerson played at EIU between 1991 and 1994, before then joining legendary coach Bob Poo’s staff the year after until 2001 leading the special teams unit.

“It’s surreal. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since 1995 at my first game on the sidelines at O’Brien Stadium,” says Wilkerson. “There’s been a lot of people who have been a huge influence on my life along the way. But you know hey, try and get the program going and get ourselves quite a bit more competitive here very quickly.”

Wilkerson spent the last nine seasons as head coach at the University of Chicago, where he went 51-27. He also had stints as an assistant at San Jose State and Dartmouth before arriving at UChicago.

He takes over for Adam Cushing, who left EIU to become Offensive Line Coach at Duke. He finished 3-26 over three season with the Panthers.