During its search for a new head coach this fall, Colorado took a long look at former Buffaloes’ safety Ryan Walters for the job.
Ultimately, the Buffs decided to hire Deion Sanders as head coach, but Walters didn’t wait long to get his shot at leading a program.
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On Tuesday, Purdue announced it has hired Walters to become its next head coach after his successful run as the defensive coordinator at Illinois.
Walters, 36, is just the second former CU player ever to land a full-time head coaching job at a Football Bowl Subdivision school. The other was Jon Embree, who was the head coach of the Buffs from 2011-12.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to serve as the head football coach at Purdue University,” Walters said in a Purdue press release. “I am grateful to director of athletics Mike Bobinski and to president Daniels for this incredible opportunity. Purdue is a world-class university, and our football program will pursue the same excellence exhibited across our campus. My wife Tara and I, along with our boys, are beyond excited to join the Purdue and West Lafayette communities. Boiler Up!”
Walters, who starred at Grandview High School in Aurora, played for the Buffs from 2004-08. His father, Marc, was a CU quarterback in the mid-1980s.
During his time at CU, Walters racked up 223 tackles and five interceptions and was a part of three bowl teams.
Following his playing career, Walters was a student assistant with the Buffs in 2009 to kick off his coaching career. He coached at Arizona, Oklahoma, North Texas and Memphis before being hired as the safeties coach at Missouri in 2015.
Walters was at Missouri for six seasons (2015-20), including two as co-defensive coordinator and the last three as defensive coordinator. He went to Illinois in 2021 and has led one of the nation’s best defenses.
This month, 247Sports named Walters as the defensive coordinator of the year and On3 named him the national coordinator of the year. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is annually presented to the top assistant coach in the country.
Illinois leads the country in scoring defense this season, allowing only 12.3 points per game and is second in total defense (263.8 yards per game).
The Illini were 29th in scoring defense last year (21.9), a dramatic jump from 2020 (97th, 34.9).
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