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Bielema dips into SEC for key coordinator hire

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Bret Bielema is assembling quite an impressive first-year staff at Illinois, since Bielema's return late last month as a Power-5 head coach.

Now, the former Arkansas and Wisconsin coach on Wednesday plucked a key hire from a nearby rival to be his defensive coordinator.

Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters has been tabbed by Bielema as the Illini's next defensive coordinator sources tell FootballScoop. Last week, Bielema hired then-Appalachian State offensive coordinator Tony Petersen to run the Illinois offense.

In Walters, who's spent the past six seasons at Missouri, the final five as either co- and lead defensive coordinator, Bielema gets a coach with a particularly strong reputation for his work in the secondary.

After a playing career at Colorado, Walters also has coaching stops at Arizona, Oklahoma and Memphis before joining the Missouri staff of then-head coach and noted defensive mind, Barry Odom.

Sources tell FootballScoop the interest in the position was strong.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.