Former Mizzou center A.J. Ricker is back in black and gold after Gary Pinkel tabbed him as the Tigers’ new offensive line coach on Monday.
"We’re really excited to have A.J. join our staff," said Pinkel in a press release issued by the school. "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 comes to Mizzou with eight years of coaching experience under his belt, including this past season as the offensive line coach at Illinois. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan under former Mizzou assistant Bill Cubit, serving in that role for the 2006 and 2007 seasons, before advancing to a full-time assistant role as offensive line coach in 2008. Ricker then moved to St. Joseph’s College (in Rensselaer, Ind.) to take over as offensive line coach in 2009, and served the 2010 season as the program’s head coach before later returning to WMU for the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator.
"Obviously, coming home is a big deal to me," Ricker said in the press release. "But I want people to know that’s 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."
The two-time Mizzou captain was a first-team All-Big 12 center for Pinkel as a senior in 2003 and started 47 consecutive games at center for the Tigers from 2000-03, which is fifth all-time.
Pinkel says Ricker is just the second former player of his to serve as a full-time assistant coach, with Matt Eberflus (at Toledo as a full-time assistant from 1994-99, and at Mizzou from 2001-08) being the other.
"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."