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Illini’s coaching loss is Mizzou’s gain

A.J. Ricker

Earlier this month, Missouri abruptly lost a long-time Gary Pinkel assistant. Less than two weeks later, they’ve apparently filled that coaching void… at the expense of another Power Five football program, as it turns out.

While nothing is official, multiple media outlets reported earlier this week that Mizzou is set to hire A.J. Ricker as Pinkel’s new offensive line coach. Ricker would replace Bruce Walker, who it was announced had decided to retire from coaching at the age of 53 one month before the start of summer camp.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Dave Matter wrote Wednesday that “Missouri is not expected to formally announce Ricker’s hiring for a few days, maybe not until next week.” While neither school has sent out a release confirming the arrival/departure, Illinois head coach Tim Beckman did acknowledge that he now has an opening to fill on his Illini staff.

He’s going to accept the opportunity to go to his alma mater,” Beckman told the Champaign News-Gazette. “We build a program and we talk about family, and he has an opportunity to go back to his family.”

Tigers fans will certainly recognize the name behind the hire when it’s officially announced.

From 2000-03, Ricker started 47 games at center for Mizzou. He served as the offensive line coach at Western Michigan in 2008 and then again from 2011-12. He spent his one and only season at Illinois in 2013.

(Photo credit: Illinois athletics)

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