Mizzou hires veteran DL coach Kevin Peoples
Eli Drinkwitz has filled one of Missouri's two assistant coaching vacancies, albeit not at one of the expected positions. Missouri has hired former Indiana defensive line coach Kevin Peoples, the school announced Friday afternoon.
Peoples spent the past two seasons at Indiana. He has 28 years of assistant coaching experience, including 20 years at the FBS level. He previously coached the defensive lines at Arkansas State, Arkansas, UAB, Georgia Southern and Tulane.
The hire of Peoples does not mean that Al Davis will leave the Missouri staff. Davis took over for Jethro Franklin as interim defensive line coach after Franklin was fired five games into the 2021 season season. Missouri announced that Davis will coach the interior of the defensive line while Peoples will coach the defensive ends.
“Al Davis and Kevin Peoples are strong coaches and leaders to work with our defensive line,” Drinkwitz said in a release. “They’re experienced individually but also together with their relationship. We made good progress at the line as the season progressed. Our defensive linemen will learn a lot from Al and Kevin.”
Under Peoples, the Indiana defense averaged more than three sacks per game in 2020, 14th best in the country. The Hoosiers tied for 19th nationally in scoring defense. In 2021, however, Indiana recorded just 1.42 sacks per game and ranked No. 109 in scoring defense.
“I’m excited to be part of the culture that Coach Drinkwitz is building here at the University of Missouri,” Peoples said. “Being back in the SEC and working with this group of coaches and staff, including one of my former players, is a strong motivation. I look forward to meeting and working with our student-athletes.”
Peoples and Davis are already well acquainted with one another. People coached Davis during his final two seasons as a player at Arkansas from 2011-12. Davis has experience coaching the interior of a defensive line. He served as the defensive tackles coach for Illinois in 2020 prior to joining Missouri's staff.
“I’m proud of the progress we made as a defensive line in 2021,” Davis said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to continue as a member of Coach Drinkwitz’s staff. To work with Coach Peoples, a man I know well and played for myself, brings excitement and experience to our group.”
Missouri lost a defensive assistant earlier this week when the team announced that Charlie Harbison will step down from his role as safeties coach. Tight ends coach Casey Woods also left last month to become the offensive coordinator at SMU. The hire of Peoples could indicate that defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and secondary coach Aaron Fletcher will split coaching duties in the defensive backfield and no replacement will be hired for Harbison. The additional hire, whenever it happens, will almost certainly come on the offensive side of the ball.
Missouri's defensive line has undergone a few personnel changes across the past week. Former Oklahoma State defensive tackle Jayden Jernigan announced his decision to transfer to Missouri on Sunday. Then Thursday, Mekhi Wingo told PowerMizzou that he intends to enter the NCAA transfer portal. Wingo played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2021 and was named to the SEC all-freshman team.