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Mizzou hires veteran defensive assistant from App State staff

Mizzou hires veteran defensive assistant from App State staff

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Eli Drinkwitz's third day on the job as Missouri's new football coach has been a busy one. He made his first official staff hires and made the rounds in St. Louis visiting high school recruits. 

Mizzou announced the addition of associate head coach Charlie Harbison, a defensive assistant following Drinkwitz from Appalachian State, and special teams coordinator Erik Link, who held the same position this year at App State.

Harbison, a veteran of four different Southeastern Conference staffs, was App State's cornerbacks coach this season. His specific duties on the defensive staff, and his contract details, will be released pending completion of MU's human resources process. He's been part of college staffs for 29 seasons, including stops at Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana State, Mississippi State and Clemson. At Auburn he was the Tigers' co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2013-14, which included the 2013 SEC championship victory over Missouri. Harbison spent the 2018 season coaching the Arizona Cardinals' cornerbacks.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” Drinkwitz said.  “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.” 

“I’m very excited to continue working with Coach Drink and grateful for the opportunity to join the Mizzou family,” Harbison said. “He is a great coach to work for, he’s outstanding with the Xs and Os, and he’s even better with the staff and the athletes on a personal level. He has this air about him that makes people want to play for him and coach for him. Coach Drink has been a blessing to me and my family, and I know he’ll be a blessing for Mizzou." 

Auburn shook up its defensive staff after the 2014 season and fired Harbison, who landed at Louisiana-Lafayette as co-coordinator from 2015-17. He's also held coordinator titles at Clemson, Mississippi State and in the AFL. The Shelby, N.C., native played defensive back at Gardner Webb before launching his coaching career. 

Here's a list of his coaching stops:

2019 – Appalachian State – Associate Head Coach/Cornerbacks

2018-19 – Arizona Cardinals (NFL) – Cornerbacks

2016-17 – Louisiana – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs

2015 – Louisiana – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Outside Linebackers

2013-14 – Auburn – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

2009-12 – Clemson – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs

2008 – Mississippi State – Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

2007 – Mississippi State – Safeties

2003-06 – Alabama – Wide Receivers

2001-02 – LSU – Defensive Backs

1998-2000 – Alabama – Defensive Backs

1995-97 – Clemson – Defensive Backs

1994 – UTEP – Defensive Backs

1994 (Spring) – Charlotte Rage (AFL) – Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs

1993 – Gardner-Webb – Wide Receivers

1993 (Spring) – Charlotte Rage (AFL) – Defensive Backs/Wide Receivers

1992 – Gardner-Webb – Wide Receivers

1991 – Lincolnton Senior High School – Defensive Backs

1991 (Spring) – Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks (WLAF) – Defensive Backs/Special Teams

1990 – Charlotte Barons (MLFS) – Linebackers

1988 – East Lincoln Senior High School – Linebackers

1983-84 – Gardner-Webb – Defensive Backs

As for Link, he was Louisiana Tech's special teams coordinator in 2018. He and Drinkwitz previously worked together at Auburn as quality control assistants in 2010. After a stop at Montana State to coach special teams and tight ends, Link served as a special teams/offensive analyst at Auburn in 2013. The Des Moines, Iowa, native played along the offensive line at Drake and later coached there as an assistant, then spent three years at Iowa State in a variety of roles. He's also coached at the high school level in Iowa.

“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard.  They focus on effort, execution and high energy."

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Mizzou family,” Link said. "I am humbled at the opportunity to work with the outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff at the University of Missouri. My family and I are grateful to Coach Drinkwitz and look forward to working every day to attack success and to embracing the Columbia community."

Also on Wednesday, Drinkwitz made some stops in St. Louis, visiting both Lutheran North and Kirkwood on his first tour of the area's high schools. At Kirkwood, he visited with 2020 wide receiver commitment Jay Maclin, along with his cousin, former Mizzou All-American Jeremy Maclin, who served as an assistant coach at Kirkwood this season. 

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