Hardy Nickerson
No. 54, 56
Personal information
Born: (1965-09-01) September 1, 1965 (age 57)
Compton, California
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:233 lb (106 kg)
Career information
High school:Verbum Dei
(Los Angeles, California)
NFL Draft:1987 / Round: 5 / Pick: 122
Career history
As Player:

As Coach:

Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Forced fumbles:19
Fumble recoveries:14
Player stats at NFL.com

Hardy Otto Nickerson, Sr. (born September 1, 1965) is an American former football coach and professional player. He played as linebacker for four teams over 16 seasons, from 1987 to 2002, in the National Football League (NFL). Nickerson spent the prime of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The hiring of head coaches Sam Wyche and Tony Dungy allowed Nickerson to play in the middle in a 4–3 defense for both coaches; Nickerson played in a 3–4 defense with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While playing in the 4–3, Nickerson went to five Pro Bowls,[1] and was selected for the National Football League 1990s All-Decade Team.

Early life

Nickerson attended Verbum Dei High School, a Catholic school located in Watts, Los Angeles. He earned a BA degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989.

Broadcasting and coaching

In 2006, Nickerson became the color analyst for the Buccaneer Radio Network, teaming him with the longtime veteran play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff.

On February 23, 2007, Nickerson was named linebackers coach of the Chicago Bears, where he coached for his former Tampa Bay position coach, Lovie Smith. On January 8, 2008, he resigned from the Bears due to health issues within his family.

On April 15, 2010, Nickerson was hired as the head football coach at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California, a traditional powerhouse that has produced future NFL players such as Tarik Glenn, Langston Walker, Kirk Morrison, and Eric Bjornson.[2] During Nickerson's tenure, he led the Dragons to back to back league titles and was also responsible for producing nearly 20 scholarship athletes in a period of three years. Nickerson stepped down from the head coaching position on November 18, 2013.

Nickerson was named the linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under Lovie Smith on January 7, 2014.[3] On January 23, 2016, Nickerson was hired by the San Francisco 49ers as linebackers coach under new head coach Chip Kelly.[4] On March 10, 2016, Nickerson was hired by the University of Illinois as defensive coordinator under new head coach Lovie Smith.[5][6] On October 30, 2018, Nickerson announced his resignation as Defensive Coordinator citing health reasons.

Personal life

His son Hardy Nickerson Jr. is a linebacker who has played in the National Football League for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings.


  1. ^ Hardy Nickerson NFL Football Statistics | Pro-Football-Reference.com
  2. ^ Bishop O'Dowd High hires ex-NFL star Hardy Nickerson as its new football coach – Inside Bay Area
  3. ^ Hardy Nickerson to join Buccaneers as assistant coaching linebackers – Bucs Nation
  4. ^ 49ers hire Hardy Nickerson as linebackers coach
  6. ^ "Hardy Nickerson Joins Illini Football as Defensive Coordinator – The Illini Room". The Illini Room. Retrieved March 17, 2016.