Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill will be inducted as a member of the Eastern Illinois Hall of Fame Class of 2022, the school announced this week.
Grugier-Hill, now in his seventh NFL season and second with the Houston Texans, is one of three athletes and one coach to be honored by the Panthers. Grugier-Hill finished his 2021 campaign tied for the most tackles for loss (13) among inside linebackers.
"I think for the first time in my career last year, he (Lovie Smith) just let me play," Grugier-Hill said. "He just took my strengths in the game. Letting me run and tackle and play in the pass a lot. He let me do that. Building off that this year is going to be big."
At Eastern Illinois, the Hawaii native was part of a defensive unit that helped Eastern Illinois football win two Ohio Valley Conference Championships and advance to three FCS playoff appearances in four seasons (2012-15). He twice earned first team All-OVC honors at linebacker and ranks third on the EIU single season list for tackles for loss. Grugier-Hill was a sixth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots becoming just 15th EIU player drafted in the NFL.
Last season, Grugier-Hill started all 14 games he played and finished the season as the team's leading tackler. He set career highs in tackles (106) sacks (3.0), quarterback hits (five), passes defensed (three) while also recording his second career interception.
The Hall of Fame weekend will take place on September 9-10 with the ceremony on Friday evening, the night before the Panthers home opener against Chattanooga.