Missouri officially announced Monday that A.J. Ricker would join Gary Pinkel’s staff as the Tigers’ new offensive line coach.
The news was first reported last week.
Ricker, a 2004 Missouri graduate, spent last season in the same position at Illinois. He replaces Bruce Walker, who retired July 1.
“I’m grateful to coach Pinkel and his staff for having the faith in me to bring me on,” Ricker said in a release from MU Athletics. “They’ve done a heck of a job of building this program and I’m really pleased and excited to be part of it.”
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While thrilled to be returning to his alma mater, Ricker said that isn’t his primary focus.
“I’m coming here to do a job to teach the game and do it at a really high level,” he said. “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.”
Ricker — a Windsor, Mo., native who graduated from Klein (Texas) High School before returning to Missouri for college — has served six seasons on former Missouri offensive coordinator Bill Cubit’s staff.
He was a graduate assistant for two seasons under Cubit at Western Michigan and a full-time assistant for three seasons during stints with the Broncos.
Ricker, who started 47 consecutive games at center for the Tigers from 2000-03, also spent two seasons at St. Joseph’s College, where he was the offensive line coach in 2009 and the head coach in 2010.
“We’re really excited to have A.J. join our staff,” Pinkel said in the release. “ 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, a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior, is the second former Pinkel assistant to return and serve as a full-time assistant on his staff, joining Matt Eberflus.
“That’s a neat thing for me personally,” Pinkel said. “It’s kind of an honor for one of your former guys to want to teach the same game you helped him to learn. I think I’m the only Don James player to ever be a full-time assistant for him, so that kind of thing means a lot.”
Ricker played professionally in NFL Europe and the Arena Football League after graduating from Missouri. He and his wife, Lauren, had their first son, Andrew, in February.