COLUMBIA- The Mizzou Football team has found its new defensive coordinator. Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks will replace the recently departed Ryan Walters in the position. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports first reported the news which was later announced officially by Mizzou.
"Steve has a strong reputation as a man of character and a leader of men," said Mizzou head coach Eliah Drinkwitz in a news release. "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 did not coach in 2020 but his resume is extensive. He has been a coach in the NFL since 2006, serving as an assistant for the Bears, Chargers and Panthers before rising to defensive coordinator in Carolina in 2017. Wilks spent one season as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. Current Mizzou defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison held the same position for Wilks in Arizona during that season. After going 3-13 in his lone season as the head coach in Arizona, Wilks spent 2019 as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns.
Wilks said in Mizzou's new release that he took time off during the 2020 season, "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."
Wilks played defensive back for Appalachian State in college. After going to training camps with a handful of NFL teams Wilks began a career in banking before returning to football. He began his career as a college coach in Division II at John C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. He would later serve as the head coach at Savannah State and had stints with six different schools, including his alma mater, before transitioning to the NFL.
"I reached out to Coach Drinkwitz when he got the job at Appalachian State as an alum," said Wilks. "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."
Wilks and his wife Marcia have endowed a scholarship at App State called the Steve & Marcia Wilks Post-Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship. The scholarship goes an App State student athlete each year “from an underrepresented population who is pursuing a graduate degree at Appalachian State University”.
Wilks expressed excitement about returning to the college game at Mizzou.
"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."