Mizzou Head Football Coach Eli Drinkwitz retained Ryan Walters, who has coached at Mizzou for the past five seasons and will continue to serve as defensive coordinator.
Walters, who came to Mizzou in 2015 as safeties coach, has served as defensive coordinator for the past two years. In 2019, Walters’ defense ranked in the nation’s Top 20 in several major categories, including total defense (14th NCAA/3rd SEC– 312.0 avg.) and scoring defense (17th NCAA/6th SEC – 19.4 avg.), while excelling as a Top 10 pass defense (eighth in passing yards allowed NCAA/second SEC – 179.3 avg.).
Under Walters’ direction in 2019, a pair of junior safeties – Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe – developed into big play fixtures in the secondary as they ranked second and third on the team, respectively, in tackles. Gillespie finished the year with 50 stops, seven pass break-ups, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble, while Bledsoe was close behind with 49 tackles, four tackles for loss and a team-best 10 pass break-ups. Additionally, two Tiger defenders earned All-America honors in 2019, including junior DT Jordan Elliott (1st-Team Pro Football Focus, 2nd-Team Associated Press) and sophomore LB Nick Bolton (3rd-Team Pro Football Focus).
“Since connecting with Ryan I’ve been very impressed with his ability to lead people and connect with the players,” said Drinkwitz. “I’m impressed with his work on the defensive side of the ball, I look forward to building on what’s already been established, the foundation that’s been laid. I look forward to Coach Walters leading a championship-style defense here at Mizzou.”
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to continue to build on what we’ve done defensively this past season,” said Walters. “We’ve got a good group of guys coming back and they’re excited to get to work. Columbia has been very good to me and my family and we’re thrilled to be part of the community and Mizzou. I’m excited to work with Coach Drink, he’s one of the most respected bright minds in our profession, and I’ve been impressed with his energy, organization and vision in our short time together. I’m looking forward to competing under his leadership and getting us on top of the SEC East.”