Walters begins Purdue tenure by promising points, defense

Ryan Walters
USA Today
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New Purdue coach Ryan Walters first flexed his muscle by giving walk-on running back Devin Mockobee a scholarship.

Then he promised to keep the Boilermakers’ reputation intact – as the Cradle of Quarterbacks and the Den of Defensive Ends.

The 36-year-old Walters said Wednesday that he envisions putting together a program that scores in bunches, stops the run and routinely harasses opposing quarterbacks.

“On offense, we will be creative,” he said in his introductory news conference. “We will be explosive in the air and on the ground. We will be strategically aggressive, and we will put points on the board and we will put them up in bunches. On defense, you already know how we get down. It’s going to be organized chaos from whistle to snap.”

Walters’ deviates from Purdue’s traditional practice of hiring offensive-minded coaches. He’s the first defensive coach to lead the Boilermakers since Leon Burtnett in 1982.

The former high school quarterback and Illinois defensive coordinator certainly understands the school’s legacy. He dreamed of following Drew Brees, from Rose Bowl parade to the NFL.

When those plans changed, the 25-year-old Walters joined the Arizona staff as the youngest Power Five position coach. He quickly rose through the ranks with stops at Oklahoma, North Texas, Memphis and Missouri before Illinois coach Bret Bielema hired him as defensive coordinator in 2021.

Now the architect of one of this season’s top defenses plans to build on the momentum Jeff Brohm created before taking the job at his alma mater, Louisville, last week. The university’s board of trustees still must approve the proposed five-year contract for the fifth-youngest coach in the Bowl Subdivision.

Meanwhile, the Boilermakers’ bowl plans remain unchanged. Brohm’s younger brother, Brian, and co-defensive coordinator Mark Hagen will be calling plays in the Jan. 2 Citrus Bowl against No. 17 LSU while Walters watches practices, hires assistants, recruits and starts preparing for next season with players such as Mockobee, the record-setting freshman runner.

Athletic director Mike Bobinski and outgoing university president Mitch Daniels believe it’s a home-run hire.

“Seven days ago, I didn’t think I could feel worse,” Daniels said. “As of the last 72 hours, I couldn’t feel better for all the reasons Mike just outlined and you just personified.”

Still, questions remain.

Bobinski noted that Walters prefers to keep the traits of his trademark defense as secretive as the recipe for Coca-Cola, and Walters did nothing to dispel the notion by even declining to describe the scheme he prefers. And while he does intend to hire a defensive coordinator, Walters plans to be making the play calls.

And now, for the first time in his career, his decisions will be the final word.

Mockobee is the first to profit from that final say.

“I thought he was in the upper echelon of the running backs we had faced or were going to face this past season,” Walters said of Mockobee. “I found out he was not on scholarship, and you know, now I’m like, `Shoot, this guy needs a scholarship’ and I’m reminding myself like, `Well, yeah, you’re the head coach, so you can do that.”‘

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.