Nebraska Football's Zavier Betts Runs with the Ball
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Mickey Joseph Aims to Enhance Competition in Wide Receiver Room

December 16, 2021

Nebraska wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph picked up a key piece of his coaching philosophy during his time as a player with the team. 

After joining the Huskers in 1988, he, along with teammate and roommate Will Taylor had second thoughts, Joseph said during Wednesday’s press conference. There were a lot of adjustments the 18-year-old quarterback from Louisiana had to make upon arrival in Lincoln. 

“Well I had to get used to the food,” he said. “It wasn’t a lot of spice on the food. So you know, that was the one thing. You get used to the weather after a while, but after you’re here for a year, everything’s normal for you. But I mean you’re going to get homesick.”

Joseph wanted to leave at one point, but a few people helped convince him to stay, including coach Tom Osborne. He did so by telling his quarterback “no” when he expressed the desire for a change of scenery. 

“So that’s what I do. When kids say they want to leave I tell them, ‘No. I’m here, you’re going to stay here. Get out my office. Go back,’” Joseph said. “… And that’s one thing I’m going to be able to do. I’m going to be able to bring a kid up from the south, and tell them why they should stay. You’re not going back home, you’re going to stay here, because this is the best place for you.”

That philosophy is one of many things that has made Joseph a successful wide receivers coach. Nebraska has had prominent wide receivers transfer under coach Scott Frost, most notably JD Spielman and Wan’Dale Robinson. 

That attrition wasn’t present this offseason, although the Huskers lost 2021 leading senior receiver Samori Touré. 

Joseph is known by many to be a strong recruiter. He accepts that mantle, telling the story of spending five hours on the phone with current star NFL receiver Ja’Marr Chase to get him to sign with LSU. 

However, he’s confident in his abilities beyond getting players in the building. 

“I never seen a bad coach with good players,” Joseph said. “And I never seen a good coach with bad players. So, I don’t mind being known as a recruiter, because I know I can coach football.”

Nebraska’s returning wide receiver group is currently full of players who have shown flashes but lacked consistency. Joseph mentioned Zavier Betts, Omar Manning, Oliver Martin, Alante Brown and Latrell Neville as players in that group that stand out, calling the position “talented.” 

There’s a wide range of experience between those players, but Joseph is determined to develop all of them equally. 

“You got to bring them all along at the same time,” he said. “And I keep talking about it’s gonna be friendly competition within that room. We’re going to get after each other because if we can battle with each other within that room, when we get to the DBs we’re about to eat them up.”

Joseph is putting the emphasis on the competition aspect of “friendly competition” though, and wants players to be holding each other accountable. 

“I don’t really want it to be friendly. I want it to be professional. It don’t matter if they don’t like each other. Now when we get off the field, we like each other. That’s keeping it professional,” Joseph said. “… I want them to be upset at each other, you know, because that might be part of losing close games.” 

Joseph officially joined the staff less than two weeks ago, and hasn’t wasted time getting started on recruiting. He’s happy to be back at his alma mater, and said he knew at the start of LSU’s season that he’d eventually come back to Nebraska and coach. 

“At the end of the day, this is my school,” he said. “I’m going to support Nebraska for the rest of my life, no matter where I’m coaching at because without the University of Nebraska, without Nebraska the state and the fans and the people here, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you today. They gave me a foundation. They accepted me for who I was.”

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