He'll now be coaching those who follow in his footsteps.
Formally on staff as assistant director of player personnel and relations, Bellamy has been promoted to wide receivers coach, Tim Beckman announced Tuesday.
"I always say there are three places that I call home – my family's house, my mother's house, and Memorial Stadium," Bellamy said. "As an alum, I think it's important to teach our players what it means to wear the orange and blue. This program has a proud and storied history, and I can't wait to pass the pride that I have have for Illinois football on to our current student-athletes."
Bellamy was a second-team All-American as a return specialist in 1988 and '89 and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection at receiver in his senior season.
He had 59 catches for 927 yards and eight touchdowns that season, the fourth-most touchdown receptions in a season in school history.
His 170 kickoff return yards versus Indiana remain a single-game school record.
"He has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the wide receiver position, and as a former Fighting Illini player, an immense amount of pride and passion for the institution," Beckman said. "I have no doubt Mike will be a great wide receivers coach and member of our coaching staff."
A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1990, Bellamy spent time with the Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders during his six-year NFL career. He also played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League, winning the World Bowl in 1996.
Bellamy and his wife Tanya built a successful business in the beauty industry in the Atlanta area before he felt the urge to return to football. He coached for three years at Sprayberry High (Marietta, Ga) and then spent a short stint at Clark-Atlanta University.
He returned to Illinois for Beckman's first season in 2012, serving in a role where he coordinated former player events and assisted with on-campus recruiting.
"I've had a chance to observe Mike over the past year, and the job he did coordinating campus recruiting visits, maintaining communications with our former players and engaging with the current team was outstanding," Beckman said.
The Fighting Illini return their top five wideouts from last season, including rising senior Ryan Lankford, who led the team in receptions (37), yards (469) and touchdown catches (five) in 2012.
Bellamy is the fourth new member added to the staff since the conclusion of the 2012 season. He joins offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, offensive line coach Jim Bridge and defensive line coach Greg Colby as new additions.
Illinois will begin spring practice March 5, with the annual Spring Game scheduled for April 12.