Colorado’s decision to hire Karl Dorrell two years ago caught many off-guard. Five games into Dorrell’s third season at the helm, things came to a predictable end. The Buffaloes announced on Sunday they had dismissed Dorrell and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson, elevating offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to the interim head coaching role.

A national search begins in earnest for CU. According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters is a name to watch.

Walters is a hot name in the coaching carousel right now.

A safety for the Buffs from 2004 to 2008, Walters is in his second season as the Illinois DC. He landed in Champaign after six seasons at Missouri, including three years as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator and two years as co-defensive coordinator. He doesn’t yet have head-coaching experience, but he is the architect of a major defensive turnaround with the Illini.

Last season, Illinois’ scoring defense (31st from 97th), third down defense (31st from 89th), and total defense (52nd from 114th) all improved more than 50 spots in the national rankings year-over-year. The Illini made massive gains in the Big Ten defensive rankings, as well, jumping nine or more spots in scoring defense (last to fourth), touchdowns allowed (last to third), yards allowed per game (last to fifth), and passing yards allowed per game (10th to first).

This season, Illinois has been even better. Surrendering just 8.4 points a game, Illinois has the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense. Illinois ranks second nationally in yards per pass allowed, fifth nationally in yards per run allowed, and fourth nationally in yards per play allowed. They have 16 sacks and 12 takeaways in five games, both of which are top-15 marks nationally.

Given the depths to which Colorado’s defense has fallen in 2022, Walters certainly looks like an attractive candidate for the job.