SEC defensive coordinator reportedly in the mix to be hired by Bret Bielema at Illinois
Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters was one of the holdovers from Barry Odom’s staff at Missouri when Eli Drinkwitz was hired a little more than a year ago. Now a report from FootballScoop suggests that Drinkwitz may need to work to hold on to Walters.
Walters is reportedly among three coaches in the mix to be the new defensive coordinator at Illinois on Bret Bielema’s staff, who was recently hired from coaching in the NFL after being fired at Arkansas. The report said multiple sources tell FootballScoop that Bielema’s been conducting interviews with Missouri’s Ryan Walters, Oklahoma State’s Jim Knowles and Wofford’s Josh Conklin.
FootballScoop noted that 2020 was the fifth season in a row that Walters had been either co-defensive coordinator or leader of the defensive unit. Walters’ 2019 Missouri defense ranked among the nation’s best in total defense at 14th nationally in yards per game (312) and 17th in scoring (19.4). Like Knowles, Walters earned $800,000 this season after he received a significant bump in the staff transition from Odom to Drinkwitz.
Missouri was No. 66 in total defense nationally for the 2020 season. Walters before Mizzou coached at Memphis, Oklahoma, North Texas and Arizona.
A decision could come as soon as Tuesday.
Bielema discussed taking the job recently on the Big Ten network.