Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Picks Odom to Run Defense; Former Tigers Linebacker Spent 3 Years as Memphis' Coordinator; College Football

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Picks Odom to Run Defense; Former Tigers Linebacker Spent 3 Years as Memphis' Coordinator; College Football

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. * Former Missouri safety Kenji Jackson has a unique perspective to measure the quality of Missouri's new defensive coordinator. Barry Odom was Jackson's college position coach from 2009-2011, during which Odom would often bring his two sons around the team facility to visit with players.

"J.T. and Garyt were around all the time," Jackson said, "so as a player, I wanted to make his job as easy as possible so he could go home and enjoy time with his family. I wanted to do my best for him."

Jackson expects Odom, 38, to earn the same respect among Mizzou players when he takes over as coordinator after next week's Citrus Bowl.

Odom, a former MU linebacker, will rejoin the Mizzou staff after spending the last three seasons as Memphis' defensive coordinator. He'll replace defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, who earlier this month accepted the head coaching job at Missouri State. Odom will also coach linebackers for the Tigers.

"It definitely helps that he's a Mizzou guy," said Jackson, who's joining Steckel in Springfield to coach Missouri State's safeties. "He played there and he's earned the credibility and respect. We knew he was a stud linebacker at Mizzou, so we automatically wanted to listen to what he had to say. I know the guys will be excited. He's a young guy. He's very vibrant and passionate, and as a player you want that in your leader."

Under Odom's watch, Memphis' defense improved each year and this season ranked among the country's best in several categories, including No. 5 in scoring defense. Memphis finished 10-3, including Monday's double-overtime win over BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl.

"We're really excited to have Barry and his family back at Mizzou," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in a prepared statement. "He's done an outstanding job at Memphis these past three years. He's coached with us before, and it's great to see someone professionally advance himself and go do such a great job elsewhere."

"It goes without saying how excited I am to have this opportunity," Odom said. "I have such a deep respect for the success that Coach Pinkel and his staff have had since I've been away. Transitioning to a new conference is very challenging, and all they've done is get better at everything. …

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