|Illinois Fighting Illini|
|Date of birth:||September 1, 1965|
|Place of birth:||Compton, California|
|High school:||Los Angeles (CA) Verbum Dei|
|NFL Draft:||1987 / Round: 5 / Pick: 122|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Hardy Otto Nickerson (born September 1, 1965) is an American football coach and former 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, and was selected for the National Football League 1990s All-Decade Team.
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. 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. On January 23, 2016, Nickerson was hired by the San Francisco 49ers as linebackers coach under new head coach Chip Kelly. On March 10, 2016, Nickerson was hired by the University of Illinois as defensive coordinator under new head coach Lovie Smith.
NFL head coaches under whom Hardy Nickerson has served: