What newly-hired Illinois DC Ryan Walters said after joining Bret Bielema's staff
Illinois football head coach Lovie Smith was bid a fond farewell following a 2-5 2020 season and a 17-39 mark over five largely feckless years at the helm in Champaign.
Former Wisconsin Badger and Arkansas Razorback’s head coach Bret Bielema was brought on board in the wake of the firing and, after the ship listed back to center, a mood of heady optimism has swept back through the historic concourses at Memorial Stadium.
Coach Bielema has brought on board Ryan Walters to coordinate the Illini’s defense under the new regime. Walters was a safety at the University of Colorado in the early 2000’s when the Buffaloes played in the Big XII before transitioning into coaching. From a graduate assistant to a position coach, Walters last year was promoted to defensive coordinator at the University of Missouri, the same position he’s accepted with the Illini.
Walters today met with the media to talk about his new job in Champaign. Some of his remarks can be perused through below.
#illini DC Ryan Walters said Barry Odom gave him control of playcalling and game-planning when he named him DC, and last fall's challenges at Mizzou were due in large part due to COVID, injuries, etc.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
Said he wanted to learn from Bielema and has "aspirations as a coach."
#illini DC Ryan Walters said he's always thought Illinois was a place "that could be special" for football with the right coaches and backing.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
#illini DC Ryan Walters said you got to build a defense/scheme around the talent.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
I'm a believer in making quarterbacks throw into tight windows and closing off the middle of the field. And I like to confuse and harass the quarterback.
#illini DC Ryan Walters says he's recruited Texas, Florida, St. Louis, Colorado, Arizona and some in California.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
#illini DC Ryan Walters says, "From a scheme standpoint, we don't know yet. We have to get to know the players."— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
"You get to build something. We want to build Illinois' defense and do what is best suited for the guys in the locker room."
#illini DC Ryan Walters: "I'm a teacher first. I don't yell and scream just to yell and scream."— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
Wants to get to know players on a personal level.
#illini DC Ryan Walters said he will be on the phone with a few seniors to try to get them to come back.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 8, 2021
DB Tony Adams, DT Roderick Perry and DE Isaiah Gay haven't announced their decisions.