Mizzou Football has hired Ryan Walters as its safeties coach, as announced Friday, February 6. Walters, 29, comes to Mizzou after spending the past season as cornerbacks coach at Memphis, where he worked as cornerbacks coach with new Mizzou Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom. At Memphis, the pair oversaw a defense that was among the most improved in the nation. Memphis went 10-3 in 2014, thanks in large part to a defense that ranked fifth nationally in points allowed (17.1 ppg) and 22nd in total defense (343.3 ypg) in the regular season.
Walters, a Los Angeles, Calif. native, played collegiately at Colorado, where he was a standout safety for the Buffaloes (2004-08). He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Colorado working with the secondary in 2009, and then spent two years on staff at Arizona, where he was a graduate assistant in 2010, before being promoted to defensive backs coach for the 2011 season.
From there, Walters moved to the Oklahoma staff as a graduate assistant cornerbacks coach in 2012, as the Sooners went 10-3 and played in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. He moved to North Texas for the 2013 season, where he coached corners and helped lead UNT to a 9-4 record in its first year in Conference USA and a win in the 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Mean Green defense that season ranked fourth in the nation in turnovers gained (34), eighth in points allowed (17.8 ppg), 13th in interceptions (18) and 17th in total defense (348.3 ypg).
“I’m really pleased that we are able to attract someone of Ryan’s caliber to join our team,” said Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Barry Odom. “I’ve known him for a while now, and had the chance to work together last year and he made a big impression on me. He’s a loyal and tireless worker who I see as a great technician and fundamentals coach. He was very sought after this past season, so we’re excited to recruit him to Mizzou,” he said.
Odom first met Walters as part of a trip the Mizzou coaching staff took to Arizona to share best practices in 2010, and recruited Walters on the staff at Memphis when he had an opening for the 2014 season.
“I’m excited to join a program as prestigious as Mizzou,” said Walters. “Coach Pinkel and his staff have done a tremendous job over the years and I’m excited to learn their system and also to bring my perspectives in. I’m fired up to work with Barry Odom again, I think he’s one of the best coaches I’ve been around, and it means a lot to me that he wants me in his defensive room. I’m excited to get to work and to help Mizzou continue to compete for championships,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to having Ryan join our staff, he is a really impressive young coach who has a well-respected reputation in the coaching industry,” said Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “He’s had proven success everywhere he’s been and we believe he’s going to do a great job with teaching and leading our safeties,” he said.
As a player, Walters had a standout career at Colorado as a safety. He started in 33 games and played in 46 contests for the Buffaloes. He earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from the Associated Press and first-team All-Colorado honors from the state’s National Football Foundation his senior year.
A team captain for the Buffaloes in 2008, Walters was also picked by his teammates the team’s MVP. He had 87 tackles, two sacks, seven pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions his senior year. His 20 career passes defended rate No. 15 in Colorado history and his 223 career tackles were No. 45 all-time.
During his playing time, the Buffaloes played in the Houston Bowl, Champ Sports Bowl and Independence Bowl.
Walters earned his degree in history from Colorado in December, 2008, with dual majors in History and Ethnic Studies. Walters and his wife Tara have a son, Aaron.
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