CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The bonds are still strong between Illinois defensive coordinator Aaron Henry and Purdue head coach Ryan Walters. The two former colleagues were in contact recently, exchanging texts about Henry’s twin girls born a few months ago. It’s all business this week though, as Henry gets ready to go against his predecessor, taking on the Boilermakers in the first game pitting the two programs against one another since Walters left for West Lafayette in December.
“Obviously credit to Coach B, credit to him,” Henry said about taking over for Walters as Illinois defensive coordinator. “I’m in this position because of both of those guys. I don’t want to make this game about more than what it is, but that dude’s family to me. Obviously we’re going to have the chance to compete against each other which I’m really ecstatic and excited about. We got a great relationship. I know he wants to win like I want to win.”
Walters took multiple Illinois coaches with him from Champaign to West Lafayette, including current Boilermakers defensive coordinator Kevin Kane and associate head coach/wide receivers coach Cory Patterson. Having that unique connection to the program offers both teams a chance to go in knowing quite a bit about each other.
“There is still a lot of familiarity from what I can see on tape,” Walters said about Illinois. “Obviously I got to go against Coach (Barry) Lunney every day in practice for a spring and a fall so there’s definitely familiarity there but at the end of the day we have to worry about what we are doing and how we can improve so we can go out there and compete our tails off on Saturday.”
Illinois and Purdue kickoff Saturday at 2:30 from Ross-Ade Stadium in game that can only be seen on Peacock.