A.J. Ricker has officially gone home.
A handful of days after it was first reported, Missouri announced Monday evening that Ricker has officially been hired as Gary Pinkel‘s offensive line coach. Ricker stepped down from the same job at Illinois to return to his alma mater.
“We’re really excited to have A.J. join our staff,” said Pinkel in a statement. “When we had this opportunity, we wanted to bring a young coach in who had experience, and A.J. fits that perfectly. We feel like he’s one of the best young offensive line coaches in the country, and we talk all the time about being Mizzou Made. He understands our system, he loves Mizzou and he can’t wait to get started.”
Ricker’s presence will certainly be a familiar one for Mizzou fans.
From 2000-03, Ricker started 47 games at center for Mizzou. He went on to serve as the line coach at Western Michigan in 2008 and then again from 2011-12. He spent his one and only season with the Illini in 2013.
Suffice to say, the lure of coming back to the Tigers proved to be too much for Ricker — but not the biggest lure.
“Obviously, coming home is a big deal to me,” said Ricker. “But I want people to know that’s the not the important thing, I’m coming here to do a job to teach the game and do it at a really high level. My biggest focus is to get there and take what I’ve learned at all my different stops, roll my sleeves up and get to work to help us win a lot of ballgames. Certainly, it’s an honor to coach at your alma mater, and I’m grateful to Coach Pinkel and his staff for having the faith in me to bring me on. They’ve done a heck of a job of building this program and I’m really pleased and excited to be part of it.”
Illinois, incidentally, has yet to announce a replacement for Ricker.
(Photo credit: Illinois athletics)