A.J. Ricker (photo/University of Illinois Athletics)

A.J. Ricker (photo/University of Illinois Athletics)

A.J. Ricker, who started 47 games at center for Missouri from 2000 to ’03, will become the new offensive line coach for Gary Pinkel.  Ricker fills the position vacated by Bruce Walker who retired after working 18 seasons under Pinkel.  Ricker most recently coached the offensive line at the University of Illinois.  This is a great pick up for Pinkel and a tough loss for Illinois.

Former Rockhurst High School star quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase who is Illinois’ all-time leader in career total offense, tweeted ‏@NScheelhaase “Man a tough loss today losing Coach Ricker. He was the best I’ve seen working with the O-Line. He will be missed.”

Ricker, who grew up in Texas, was born in Windsor, Missouri.  His dad was high school football coach in Windsor and his mom attended Hickman High School in Columbia.  Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit told the News-Gazette he had a feeling Ricker would return to his roots.

“I knew it would be natural because he’s a Missouri guy,” Cubit said.

Ricker spent two seasons working under Cubit as Western Michigan, who was head coach of the Broncos.  Rickert coached the offensive line under Cubit, who was instrumental in bringing along to the Illini when he joined Tim Beckman’s staff.

Ricker’s salary was $180,000 at Illinois.  Walker was paid $287,000 at Missouri.

Ricker will coach a projected starting line that will stand 6’4 and go 306 pounds across the front for a unit that helped Mizzou finished second in the SEC in rushing yards per game.