A.J. Ricker during his Mizzou playing days
July 14, 2014
COLUMBIA, MO. - Former University of Missouri standout center A.J. Ricker has been named assistant football coach for his alma mater, as announced today by Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel. Ricker will join the staff as offensive line coach, after spending the past season in the same role at Illinois.
Ricker comes to Mizzou with eight years of coaching experience under his belt. He began his coaching resume 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. He moved to St. Joseph's College (in Rensselaer, Ind.) 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.
Ricker was born in Windsor, Mo., and graduated from high school in Klein, Texas before coming to Mizzou. He was a 1st-Team All-Big 12 center for Pinkel as a senior in 2003, as part of the first bowl-eligible team at MU since 1998. He started 47 consecutive games at center for the Tigers from 2000-03, which established a record at any position at MU at the time (it now stands 5th-alltime on the MU consecutive starts chart, 2nd among centers). He served as a two-time team captain at Mizzou.
"We're really excited to have A.J. join our staff," said Pinkel. "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," he said.
"Obviously, coming home is a big deal to me," said Ricker. "But I want people to know that's the 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," he said.
According to Pinkel, Ricker becomes only 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, 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," he said.
Ricker earned his undergraduate degree from Mizzou in agriculture in 2004. Following his graduation, Ricker signed a free agent contract with the NFL's Chicago Bears and was allocated to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in 2005. In 2006, and for part of 2007, he was a member of the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm before retiring from his playing days. In 2011, he was married to the former Lauren Mattaliano, and the couple has an infant son, Andrew, who was born in February of this year.
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