Eliah Drinkwitz’s staff at Missouri continues to grow, and the latest name is yet another of his former assistants who worked with him at Appalachian State.

D.J. Smith will join Drinkwitz’s staff as a defensive assistant, Missouri announced in a press release Friday. Smith’s exact role was not announced because, according to the release, the human resources process is not yet complete. But he served as outside linebackers coach for the Mountaineers the past two seasons.

Smith had been at Appalachian State, where he played linebacker, since 2016.

“D.J. is a man of character who has played football at the highest level,” Drinkwitz said in a statement. “He’s a great teacher and organizer, and he impressed me with how he presents his ideas in a clear and concise way. That gives him an ability to relate to the players both on a personal level, as well as the football aspect.”

Smith is the third coach from Drinkwitz’s staff at Appalachian State to join him in Columbia. Missouri announced the hiring of special teams coordinator Erik Link and associate head coach Charlie Harbison on Thursday.

Also listed in the MU staff directory are Brick Haley as senior associate head coach/defensive line, defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. All three coached under previous head coach Barry Odom.

Two linebackers under Smith’s tutelage were named to the 2019 All-Sun Belt Conference team as Appalachian State won the conference championship and compiled a 12-1 season this past year. One of those linebackers, Akeem Davis-Gaither, received recognition as the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year.

Smith also earned accolades when he was a Mountaineers linebacker. He was a two-time All-American and is second on the all-time career tackles list at Appalachian State.

The Green Bay Packers drafted Smith in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He also played for the Chargers and Panthers from 2013-2014.

“I’m blessed and honored to have the opportunity to come work with Coach Drink,” Smith said in a statement. “Having worked with him the past year, I learned a lot from him on how to be a better coach, a better man and a better father. I’m excited to come to Mizzou and to work hard to build something special with the team and for our fans. I can’t wait to get started.”

  • Nick Kelly is a Missouri football reporter for the Columbia Missourian. A native of Minneapolis, Minn., he is studying magazine writing and business. Previously, he covered sports for The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic.

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