Ryan Walters hiring: 5 things to know about Purdue's new head coach
Ryan Walters has been officially hired as the next head football coach at Purdue. Walters joins the Boilermakers after two seasons in the B1G on Bret Bielema’s coaching staff at Illinois.
Now, Walters will try to build on the success that Jeff Brohm achieved before departing for Louisville. With a B1G West title in 2022, the ground is set for even bigger things to come.
The next chapter of 𝐏𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐮𝐞 𝐅𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐛𝐚𝐥𝐥 is here. @Coach_Walters, 𝐁𝐎𝐈𝐋𝐄𝐑 𝐔𝐏!
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) December 13, 2022
As Walters prepares to step to the helm of his first head coaching gig, here are 5 things to know about the new head coach of the Boilermakers.
Walters among youngest head coaches in America
Walters steps into the role as head coach after 5 seasons as a DC at Missouri and Illinois. At 36 years old, Walters is now the 4th-youngest head coach in FBS football.
New Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham is the youngest at 32. South Alabama coach Kane Wommack (35) and Oregon coach Dan Lanning (36) are the others younger than Walters.
4-year contributor at Colorado
Ryan Walters was a 4-year member of Colorado’s secondary from 2005-08. B1G fans will also recognize the name of Walters’ first DC, Mike Hankwitz, who served on the Buffs’ staff from 2004-05.
During his time at Colorado, Walters posted 205 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and 6 interceptions. Walters appeared in 46 games with 33 starts for Colorado and was a team MVP during his senior season.
Ties to the west coast
As a native of Aurora, Colorado Walters played and got his coaching start at Colorado with an additional stop as a coach at Arizona from 2010-11. With the B1G expanding westward by adding USC and UCLA, adding a coach with ties to the region should help Purdue in expanding its recruiting footprint.
Quick defensive turnaround at Illinois
After joining Bret Bielema at Illinois, Walters faced the task of turning around a defensive unit that allowed 34.9 points per game in 2020. That mark ranked 97th nationally.
In 2021, Walters’ unit improved that mark by nearly 70 spots, allowing just 21.9 points per game to rank 29th nationally. In 2022, the Illini defense led the nation in scoring defense with 12.3 points per game during the regular season.
All-B1G honors headline Walters’ defensive units
For his work with the Illinois defense, a trio of defensive backs landed first-team All-B1G honors across 2021-21. Those players were Kerby Joseph in 2021 and Devon Witherspoon and Sydney Brown in 2022.
Devon Witherspoon especially shined under Walters’ tutelage. Witherspoon was named a Jim Thorpe Award finalist in 2022 and has appeared on multiple All-American teams after finishing the season with 3 interceptions, 14 pass breakups and 41 tackles.