Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — Chris Wilson has officially joined the Missouri football team. As Football Scoop reported Friday, Wilson will be joining the Tigers as their defensive line coach.
Wilson has coached defensive lines in 19 of his 23 seasons of coaching, working at Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Georgia and most recently Southern California.
Wilson comes to Mizzou after coaching the past two seasons at USC, where defensive end Leonard Williams earned first-team All-American status in 2014. Williams went on to become the sixth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.
“Chris Wilson is a great fit for our staff,” newly hired coach Barry Odom said in a statement released Monday. “I’ve known of him and thought highly of him for a number of years. I’ve recruited against him, I’ve watched him at Oklahoma, Colorado, Mississippi State and Georgia and I’ve enjoyed the way he gets his guys to play with great energy and passion.
“He’s very passionate about coaching the defensive line and he’s got a great feel for fundamentals and understanding what it takes to mentor a group and lead them and have them playing at their best level. He’s really respected nationally as a recruiter and he’s done a great job of developing relationships in a lot of different places where we recruit in SEC territory.”
Before coaching two seasons at USC — where he was fired earlier this month — Wilson spent 2013 as Georgia’s defensive line coach. The Bulldogs were 28th nationally in sacks in 2013.
Details of Wilson’s contract have not yet been released.
“I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to be at such a great institution and program as Mizzou and also to be back in the SEC,” said Wilson, 46. “I’ve seen Mizzou in person a lot, both as a coach and a player, and I’ve always enjoyed the energy of their fan base. You can tell the football program is important to the state and their culture. What they’ve been able to accomplish as a program in their short time in the league, being in two championship games, is really impressive.
“I’m excited about working with coach Odom and his staff, I see him as progressive and as an outside the box guy who is going to do big things. I understand the tradition of excellence that Mizzou has had with the defensive line, and I’m honored to come in and work hard to help give them a chance to be even better in the future.”
Wilson also spent time in the SEC with Mississippi State, where he coached the defensive line from 2010-12. He was the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator the final two years. In 2010, Mississippi State ranked 15th nationally in rushing defense and 17th in tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox was a 2011 All-American and an NFL first-round draft pick.
Wilson coached defensive ends at Oklahoma, his alma mater, from 2005-09 and he coached special teams there for three years. As a player at Oklahoma, Wilson recorded 303 tackles and twice was a team captain before being selected by the Chicago Bears in the 12th round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
After coaching at Indiana State, Northern Illinois and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Wilson interned in the NFL from 1995-97. He coached the defensive line at Colorado from 2000-04 before returning to Oklahoma.
Wilson replaces Craig Kuligowski, who had an unprecedented run as Missouri’s defensive line coach from 2001-2015. Under Kuligowski’s tutelage, 12 Missouri defensive linemen were drafted into the NFL, including four in the first round and two in the second. Twenty-three Missouri defensive linemen earned all-conference honors of some sort under Kuligowski, including 10 first-teamers and three All-Americans.
During his time at Missouri, Kuligowski’s defensive line became a point of pride for the program, inspiring the “D-Line Zou” brand. In his final season with the Tigers, Kuligowski’s youthful group exceeded expectations, fronting a top-10 defense despite the departures of all-conference ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden and season-ending injuries to tackle Harold Brantley.
Kuligowski had coached under Gary Pinkel for 24 years both at Missouri and Toledo. Pinkel resigned at the end of last season due to health concerns.
Kuligowki turned down a chance to become a defensive coordinator at Illinois before the 2015 season, and with the turnover in staff caused by Pinkel’s departure, many assumed if he were to stay at Missouri it would be as the defensive coordinator. Missouri announced DeMontie Cross as its defensive coordinator, filling Odom’s previous position, on Friday.