Ryan Walters is in the middle of preparing his first coaching staff as a head coach at Purdue. According to reports, he’s targeting one former co-worker and current Illinois analyst for an assistant coaching role in West Lafayette.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Walters and the Boilermakers are hiring Grant O’Brien, a defensive analyst of the Illini. The connection between Walters and O’Brien goes even deeper than that with the two working together going back to Missouri.

Prior to working with Walters at Illinois from 2021-22, O’Brien also worked with the new head coach at Missouri from 2018-20. He also has stops at FIU, Arizona Christian and Northern Arizona.

One of the staples of Walters’ defense in Champaign was strong play on the backend of the defense, so hopefully, O’Brien is the right piece to keep that going at Purdue.