Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz introduced new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks at a press conference on Monday, and explained how the former NFL head coach became interested in the job with the Tigers.

Wilks most recently was the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2019, and previously was the Arizona Cardinals head coach in 2018. Wilks did not coach in the 2020 season.

Drinkwitz said Wilks has the most NFL experience of any current SEC defensive coordinator, and perhaps SEC coaches in general. Drinkwitz did consider the lack of recent college coaching experience, but also said Wilks has familiarity because of previous experience at Washington, Notre Dame, Bowling Green, East Tennessee State and his alma mater, Appalachian State. Wilks and Drinkwitz first met when Drinkwitz was the coach at App State.

“I do think there are some distinct differences in the game,” Drinkwitz said of the NFL and college games. “I think you’re seeing some success of NFL coordinators coming down and joining us in the college game. But the most important thing … in recruiting is he’s a great communicator. He’s going to be identifiable, he’s somebody that recruits are going to recognize who can get them and develop them to great men and also great football players.”

The NFL experience is a selling point as Wilks also coached with the Chicago Bears, San Diego Charges and Carolina Panthers, where Drinkwitz watched his defenses. Drinkwitz sees the NFL experience as a strength as opposed to any kind of weakness.

“For that to be the stated goals for most of the players we recruit, why would you look anywhere else than with Coach Wilks and what he’s done in the past on the defensive side of the football, and what he’s going to do developing those players here,” Drinkwitz said.

Wilks explained that in his return to coaching, he wanted to be around people he enjoyed working with, and agreed on the same core values. He said he found that at Missouri.