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Mizzou hiring former NFL coach Steve Wilks as new defensive coordinator

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Eli Drinkwitz seems to have found his man for the defense. And, boy, does he have an impressive resume.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After two short weeks, Eli Drinkwitz has found his man to replace Ryan Walters.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported on Thursday morning that Eli Drinkwitz would hire Steve Wilks, a longtime stalwart in the NFL and NCAA, as his new defensive coordinator.

Shortly after the news dropped, Dave Matter confirmed the news for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Later in the afternoon, Eli Drinkwitz confirmed the news himself on Twitter.

Wilks, 51, last coached in 2019, as the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator. His resume is vast, including multiple NFL and NCAA jobs — though he hasn’t coached in the college ranks since 2005. Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Savannah State, Head Coach (1999)
  • Illinois State, Defensive Backs Coach (2000)
  • Appalachian State, Defensive Backs Coach (2001)
  • East Tennessee State, Defensive Coordinator (2002)
  • Bowling Green, Defensive Backs Coach (2003)
  • Notre Dame, Defensive Backs Coach (2004)
  • Washington, Secondary (2005)
  • Chicago Bears, Defensive Backs Coach (2006-2008)
  • San Diego Chargers, Defensive Backs Coach (2009-2011)
  • Carolina Panthers, Defensive Backs Coach/Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator (2012-2017)
  • Arizona Cardinals, Head Coach (2018)
  • Cleveland Browns, Defensive Coordinator (2019)

That’s quite a bit of experience, especially with defensive backs. Wilks also has loose ties to Missouri’s staff, having played football at Appalachian State, Eli Drinkwitz’s previous home. Coach Charlie Harbison also coached defensive backs under Wilks in his lone season as Arizona’s head coach. From the MUTigers.com press release, Drinkwitz had this to say about his new Defensive Coordinator, “We are thrilled to welcome Steve Wilks and his family to Mizzou. Steve has a strong reputation as a man of character and a leader of men. His experiences both as an NFL head coach and defensive coordinator are exactly what we need at Mizzou. I’m looking forward to Steve putting his fingerprints on our defense as we continue to elevate Mizzou Football to greater heights.”

Wilks had this to say, “As I took time off to reflect over the past year, I wanted to find a good program with great people that was moving in the right direction, and without a doubt, Mizzou Football has all of that,” said Wilks. “I reached out to Coach Drinkwitz when he got the job at Appalachian State as an alum, and Coach Harbison is a good friend of mine who spoke volumes about the culture and people at Mizzou. Mizzou has things moving in a great direction and I wanted to be a part of that.

“I’ve had a reputation of building relationships everywhere I’ve been, from college to the NFL,” said Wilks. “I pride myself on being a great teacher and communicator and having the ability to get the most out of my players. Players like Josh Norman, who developed from a fifth-round draft pick into an All-Pro selection, is just one example of someone who I was able to help develop. In college, you must develop players, and I believe I can bring that to Mizzou, along with being a great communicator and teacher.”

We’ll continue to monitor this news and update you as new information comes to light. Our Lead Football Writer Brandon Kiley will have a breakdown of what this means for Mizzou’s defense soon.