One of UNT’s most productive assistant coaches is leaving the program.
Ryan Walters, who joined the Mean Green’s staff last season and made an immediate impact both as an assistant coach and recruiter, is joining the staff at Memphis.
UNT head coach Dan McCarney confirmed the news early Monday afternoon.
Memphis is expected to officially announce that Walters is joining its staff in the next few days.
“I am happy for him and his family, but we are sorry to see him go,” McCarney said. “The good news is when you are going the way we are now, this is going to happen. We have the next guy in mind.”
UNT is coming off a terrific season in which the Mean Green finished 9-4 and beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Losing Waters is a tough break for the Mean Green. He came to UNT after spending time at Oklahoma as a graduate assistant and Arizona and made an immediate impact on the Mean Green’s secondary.
UNT ranked third in Conference USA play in passing defense with an average of 189.1 yards allowed a game in league play. UNT gave up 228.2 passing yards a game on the season, a vast improvement over the 252.3 yards a game the Mean Green allowed in 2012.
What made UNT’s performance all the more impressive was that the Mean Green changed its corners in the middle of the season. Former walk-on Kenny Buyers was elevated to the starting lineup in the third week of the season, while James Jones became a starter a week later.
Walters was also an effective recruiter who helped UNT put together an impressive class this cycle. McCarney called Walters “a bulldog” who was persistent on the recruiting trail.
McCarney said that Walters worked well with Noah Joseph, UNT’s safeties coach. Joseph can coach both corners and safeties.
McCarney said that he is looking for a coach who will also work well with Joseph, who he believes will become a coordinator later in his career.
McCarney keeps a list of coaches he is interested in for each spot on his staff and has already fielded about 40 phone calls from coaches who are interested in the position in the last 24 hours. Since national signing day has already passed, there is no sense of urgency in terms of getting a new coach in place.
McCarney said he will take his time and find a new assistant who fits the program’s needs.
Walters is the second assistant coach to leave UNT’s staff since the end of last season. UNT defensive line coach Mike Nelson retired and was replaced by Kevin Patrick, a former South Florida assistant coach.