Walters happy with secondary so far

This may be Ryan Walters' first year as secondary coach at Arizona, but he knows he has plenty of talent to work with. Read on to see his impressions of the secondary, Pac-12, and more.

Ryan Walters is living the dream, or at least his version of it. After just one season as a defensive graduate assistant, Walters has already ascended to the position of defensive backs coach, and couldn't be happier with where he's at in life.

"I love it here and I love my job," Walters said. "I'm fortunate enough to be doing what I want to do when I grow up. To be able to say that at 25 is a blessing and I thank Mike (Stoops) for the opportunity and thank the university for the opportunity. It's a blessing."

Walters just wrapped up his first fall camp as Arizona's defensive backs coach, and is very pleased with the progress he's seen from his group.

"I think camp went well, we definitely made some strides," Walters said. "I have a great group of guys, not only great players but great people. They make it a good, fun environment to coach in and they take criticism very well. I think they improved since day one, we were pleased with their performance.

"Our safety play has gotten a lot better since the start. We've had a very competitive battle at the corner spot and that's improved our play. The focus play in and play out has increased dramatically."

While the group has progressed in Walters' eyes, like any coach will tell you, there are still improvements to be made.

"We still have work to do, still have to clean things up," Walters said. "Just detail stuff. Leverage on receivers, knowing where your help is at at all times, just knowing where you can cheat within the defense. Just playing fast and getting everything into it that goes into our thought process."

The transition into the coach of the secondary has been made much smoother by veteran defensive back Robert Golden, who has emerged as the secondary's leader as well as one of the leaders of the team.

"Robert makes my job easier," Walters said. "He's 100 percent all in for this university and this team. He works his tail off in the meeting rooms and on the field. I know I'm going to get 100 percent from him every play, and he brings that energy to the secondary that makes everyone do the same."

While the leadership and play from the veterans will be beneficial to the defense as a whole in 2011, Walters sees a bright future for some of the secondary's younger players.

"Cortez (Johnson) is a heck of an athlete," Walters said. "He's still pretty raw in his technique, but he's going to be a great player. He has the physical tools to be a great one. Marquis (Flowers) obviously has come a long way since the start of camp.

"Shaquille (Richardson) and Jonathan (McKnight) are both tremendous athletes and have good size for the cornerback spot. They will be great for this university for a long time."

With the inaugural Pac-12 championship at stake in the 2011 season, Walters knows that the secondary and the defense as a whole are going to have to perform at a high level in order to be competitive and remain in the hunt for the conference title.

"I think we have a chance to be really good this year," Walters said. "My goals are the same as the player's goals and that's to win a Pac-12 championship. In order to do that, we're going to have to be one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. If we play the way we're capable of playing game in and game out, and we continue to prepare and mentally prepare, that goal is attainable."


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