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Enjoy Ryan Walters while you can...

Mizzou defensive coordinator, Ryan Walters, probably won’t be coaching at Missouri for very long.

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We here at Rock M Nation, have done a lot of talking about this coaching staff, and how good we think that it is. Obviously, Drinkwitz is the leader of the offense, but what about the defense? That would belong to Ryan Walters, defensive coordinator for the Tigers.

When Coach Drinkwitz was hired, one of the best decisions he made was retaining Ryan Walters from the previous staff. It was a no brainer for Drinkwitz, but for Walters? Not so sure. Walters had interest from at least one power five school - his alma mater Colorado - but when they moved in another direction, so did he. At 34, having coached under defensive mastermind Barry Odom, and with some solid defensive units on his resume already, we should all get used to the fact that he won’t be at Mizzou for long.

Lets take a look at the reasons he would be an attractive head coach candidate.

SEC Experience

Walters joined the Missouri staff after following former coach, Barry Odom, from Memphis to Missouri. He earned his stripes as a safeties coach before becoming the co-defensive coordinator in 2016 and, eventually, the full time defensive coordinator in 2018. Regardless of circumstances, becoming a defensive coordinator in the SEC is hard and the factt that Walters has done so in his early thirties is something that will definitely impress future suitors.

Quality Position Coach

I’m sure we all find ourselves forgetting this fact but Ryan Walters is still a safeties coach and a damn good one at that. When he started in 2015, he had Anthony Sherrils and Ian Simon and coached them to their best seasons as Missouri Tigers. Now, in 2020 he has Joshua Bledsoe, and Tyree Gillespie; two players who he has helped develop into one of the best safety duos in the SEC and possibly in the country. They’re two of the top five players on this team and came to Columbia as overlooked 2- and 3-star recruits from talent-rich states. Their development and deployment are directly attributed to Coach Walters.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Noticeable Improvement

In his first, full season as the sole defensive coordinator in 2018 there were some obvious problems that the Tigers were working through. They were a middling defense at best, and in six of their thirteen games that year, they gave up 30+ points. Not very good.

When they returned in 2019 however, there was a more than noticeable change in the defense and they gave up 30+ points just once in 12 games. (Wyoming) That defense finished in the top fifteen nationally in total defense. All of this mind you, was without their best linebacker, Cale Garrett, who was lost early in the season to injury. It’s hard not to be impressed with that sort of a turnaround in that quick of a timeframe.


This is a big deal, and a big asset, for Coach Walters. Similar to the NFL, young hotshots are getting their chance to be leaders of these college programs. It seems like if you’re looking for an elite coach, this is the way to go. Swing big on a less known, accomplished young coach, give him the keys and hope that he’s the next big thing. We’ve seen this from mainly offensive gurus but there’s also room for a defensive guy like Walters to make that leap. Barry Odom was a young defensive coordinator who didn’t cut it in his one stint as a head coach but there have been plenty of other youthful gentlemen - Matt Campbell, Jason Candle, Will Healy, Neal Brown - who have made instant impacts with young rosters.


He’s not super flashy from a national perspective, but there is obvious reason for an opposing school to be interested in our defensive coordinator. And, let me be clear, it’s absolutely a good thing and we should be happy that our coordinator would garner interest since that means he’s doing well and other coaches can see Missouri as a place to improve their profile and land jobs. At the same time it’s a challenge for the Missouri program as a whole; for the players, it’s a question of learning possibly a new scheme, personnel groupings, and maybe even new positions for certain players. For the other coaches, Drinkwitz especially, how will he handle hiring another coordinator? How does that personality swap mesh? It’s an interesting exercise.

None of this will happen until the end of the season at the very earliest, so until then, I suggest that Missouri fans enjoy Ryan Walters while you can, because I have a feeling he won’t be around much longer.