Replacing four assistant coaches causes a lot of ripple effects. The decision for coach Scott Frost to let go of running backs coach Ryan Held had to be difficult. His contributions to the program went far beyond coaching the running backs. It’s fair to question why Nebraska couldn’t produce a consistent rushing attack with the players in his room after Devine Ozigbo graduated. That’s a different discussion for a different day.
Let’s focus on the recruiting aspect of Held no longer being with the program. Running back is position at Nebraska that has a rich tradition. The Huskers use that tradition on the recruiting trail to bring players into the program. Nebraska signed nine running backs while Held was in his position. He was the lead recruiter on all nine. Every scholarship running back on the current roster is someone he recruited.
Yet, his impact on Nebraska recruiting goes far beyond his position group. Held was the point person on junior college recruiting. His years of experience in the JUCO ranks as a head coach gave him a lot of connections for the Huskers to pull from. Since the 2018 recruiting class Nebraska signed 13 players from JUCO. Held led those efforts.
Frost has noted several times over the last month that landing difference-makers from JUCO and the portal will be key to boosting the team in 2022. If the Huskers are going to continue going hard after JUCO and portal players they are going to need more coaches with connections in those areas. Held gave an update on where things stood with the Huskers evaluating JUCO possibilities back in September.
“I think it looks the same,” Held said. “There’s some JUCO kids that I’m keeping an eye on as they get their games and highlight videos in certain positions. Now that they’re through two or three games, I’m really hammering out with our staff, who do we, who do you feel we need to look for?”
Someone else will need to take up that position on Nebraska’s staff. It will be interesting to see who Frost brings in that has connections to JUCO recruiting. It’s been a consistent part of Nebraska’s strategy since his arrival.
It’s not just JUCO recruiting that will need an adjustment. Held also served as the recruiting coordinator for Nebraska. That means that he was the go-to person on the coaching staff to help coordinate recruiting efforts. Someone new will need to take that position as well. Maybe Frost won’t want to hand that position to a new staff member. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton would make sense in that role.
Held had a global role with the team’s recruiting efforts. There are several other players Held played a large role in recruiting. Held was the lead recruiter from Wan’Dale Robinson, Turner Corcoran and Latrell Neville. That’s just a few of the players outside his position room that he recruited. He has Kansas and Oklahoma as states he was in charge of. He also had Texas after assignments got reshuffled. The former coach was known as an enthusiastic recruiter. He got named one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters by Rivals in both 2018 and 2019.
Held wore a lot of hats on the recruiting side of things for Nebraska. Frost’s decision on who replaces him and what skill sets are needed go beyond only coaching. It doesn’t have to be the next running backs coach that picks up the recruiting slack. But one or two people that join the staff will need to be viewed as ace recruiters.
That’s more important than ever as the Huskers search for a few missing pieces to get the program over the hump.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.