Battle High School head football coach Atiyyah Ellison smiles while talking with senior Landon Ray

Atiyyah Ellison smiles while talking with then-senior Landon Ray at a Battle High School football team practice August 27, 2019. Ellison was hired as MU’s new Director of Player Development on Friday.

Former Missouri defensive lineman and Battle High School coach Atiyyah Ellison has returned to MU, this time as the Tigers’ director of player development. The university athletic department announced the move in a news release Friday.

Ellison became Battle’s defensive line coach in 2013 before ascending to head coach before the 2019 season.

“He really, truly brought stability to our program,” Battle athletic director Alex Huck said over the phone Friday. “He has just a special way of holding our kids accountable but also getting the absolute best out of them. He’s a role model. He’s a father figure to 100 of our football guys. He brings it all, he really did.”

In his new role, Ellison will be responsible for working with student-athletes as they “develop and cultivate life skills,” per the release. He played for the Tigers from 2002 to 2004 and was first-team All-Big 12 his senior year, when he recorded 60 tackles and 2½ sacks. The Carolina Panthers selected him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

“I’m blessed to be part of this program again,” Ellison said in the release. “I’m grateful to Coach Drinkwitz for the opportunity to be part of the next chapter of Mizzou football, and to add to my professional experiences. I can’t wait to see our student-athletes continue to grow, on and off the field.”

Battle went 17-6 in Ellison’s two years as coach and made the district championship in both seasons. His departure leaves the Spartans without a coach close to four weeks away from the beginning of fall camp. The search for a replacement has already begun; the position is posted on the district website, and Huck is hoping to have someone new in the role by the end of July.

Ellison’s hiring at MU was in the works for around a month. He kept Huck in the loop throughout the process and had the support of the Battle administration as he pursued the job.

“First and foremost, my reaction was I’m happy for him,” Huck said. “He’s a great friend. He’s a role model to myself as well, so I was super happy when he told me about the opportunity. Obviously I’m sad for our kids, I’m sad for our program, but he put us in a place where we’re set up for success because of everything he did for our program.”

  • Sports reporter, fall 2020. Studying print and digital sports journalism. Reach me at or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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