This is the highest-profile coaching job of Rob Dvoracek’s career. Nebraska’s new linebackers coach joined head coach Matt Rhule’s staff at Baylor after a knee injury ended his playing career at Temple. Dvoracek briefly coached defensive ends and linebackers at Lehigh before joining Rhule’s staff at Carolina.
Rhule accepted the Nebraska job and asked Dvoracek if he wanted to coach linebackers. He accepted, finished the NFL season and finalized Rhule’s staff at Nebraska. He met with local media at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday for the first time since taking the job and said he was thankful for the opportunity.
“The tradition here is unbelievable,” Dvoracek said. “But also I’ve been with coach Rhule for a long time, him and I have a really good relationship with each other. I know he’s going to do something great, we’re going to do something great here. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
He immediately follows some of that tradition. He takes over linebackers from Barrett Ruud, the program’s all-time leading tackler by a comfortable margin. Dvoracek didn’t know he wanted to get into coaching. But he enjoyed helping people and football felt like a natural way to do that. He wanted to stay involved as much as he could. This fall will mark his seventh season coaching football.
Key returners Nick Henrich and Luke Reimer visited Dvoracek already. As a coach, he wants to build relationships with them right away and said it’s been great getting to know them so far.
“I need to have a good relationship with everyone in that room,” Dvoracek said. “It’s been good to see where their minds are at with previous schematic things, what they need to improve on. Just really get to know them as people and we’re getting to more of the football now.”
He wouldn’t specifically dive into what transfer linebackers MJ Sherman and Chief Borders bring that are different. The Pennsylvania native said simply the whole linebacker room has “done a good job” so far. Dvoracek said coaches are still trying to sort out personnel at linebacker. Because they’ve only seen players in shorts and shirts so far, it’ll take through the spring for them to evaluate the position.
While Nebraska signed a few linebackers in its 2023 recruiting class, there’s always the possibility they pursue linebackers through the transfer portal after evaluating the roster. The portal window opens again after spring camp. Dvoracek laid out some of the characteristics he looks for in linebackers.
“Tough, smart, competitive but also have great traits,” he said. “They’re long, they’re explosive, they can change direction. Obviously, size is a huge factor in that as well. We’re trying to find all those things and make sure they’re right for us.”
That led to a question of defensive coordinator Tony White’s defense. Dvoracek couldn’t think of how to describe it—until a wry smile crossed his face. He first said “chaos,” like a question. Maybe that wasn’t the right word for it. But it’s the one he settled on. He’s coached and played in similar defenses so he’s familiar with the concept. But in practice, they want to create something unique.
“It’s structured so that we can do a lot of different fronts. We can do a lot of different coverages and we have lots of different ways of doing it,” Dvoracek said. “It’s hard to describe because we can do a lot of things but it can also look the same.
“It’s been really cool to learn the system with coach White and see how we can win on defense.”
Dvoracek said the coaching staff, much like recruiting, is built upon relationships. They’re creating a family at Nebraska and recruits want to be part of it. Nebraska signed two players in its 2023 class from Pennsylvania. That meant a lot to him because he knows the quality of football player that comes from his home state.
Finally, he said his two seasons coaching in the NFL showed him even those at the highest level look for improvement. Those professionals still showed an eagerness to learn and get better.