Notes from a Night at the Rococo With Nebraska's Assistants
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Notes from a Night at the Rococo With Nebraska’s Assistants

February 08, 2018

The 23-man 2018 recruiting class was the headliner of the day, and head coach Scott Frost spoke about what the group can bring to Lincoln in the coming years during his press conference earlier. But Wednesday night at the Rococo Theater in downtown Lincoln, it was the assistants' time to shine as they appeared in front of season ticket holders for a live event on Husker Sports Nightly.

Here are some notes from the evening.

>> Matt Davison has taken a role within the athletic department as this new era of Husker football gets underway, but what does that mean come football season. Will he still be calling Husker games?

“I hope to do the games next fall,” he said. “It’s a passion of mine, I love doing the games and we’ll see what happens next fall. Hopefully, I’m calling a bunch of wins no matter what.”

Davison also shared that the Husker coaching staff, while not suiting up to take the football field anytime soon, has spent time playing pickup basketball games at the Hendricks Training Complex. This is a tight-knit group.

>> Members of the offensive staff appeared first and it was an entrance fit for a rockstar. As “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project played through the speakers of the theater and the crowd clapped along, offensive coordinator Troy Walters, offensive line coach Greg Austin, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and running backs coach Ryan Held came out. 

They went down the line answering questions about players they’d signed in their respective position groups. Walters went first.

He said JUCO wide receiver Mike Williams reminded him of himself and said they are planning to use his speed as a mismatch in the slot. Walters also said Williams has added close to 10 pounds of muscle since arriving on campus in January.

Walters also was high on signee Dominick Watt. He likened the wideout to NFL great Larry Fitzgerald and said Watt is “physically mature enough” to play right away.

On athlete Miles Jones, Walters said the staff will move him around all over the field, similar to how they used Otis Anderson at Central Florida. If you’re wondering, Anderson rushed for 494 yards, caught 30 balls for another 351 yards and scored seven touchdowns as a freshman for the Knights last season.

>> Austin actually broke his foot back in December. The line coach had a boot on his right foot during the event and when asked about it, he shared that he had suffered a Jones fracture before the Knights’ Sugar Bowl win over Auburn. He waited until after the game to deal with it.

As for this class, Austin spoke highly of Will Farniok, saying that Matt, his older brother, has been pushing Will in the weight room already and that Will has “natural center ability” as well as talent at guard. 

>> Verduzco said what everyone was thinking: “We sold out the spring game in, what, a day and a half? That’s freaking amazing.” On quarterback Adrian Martinez, Verduzco said the staff has been on him since early on in his high school career not entirely because of his physical abilities but because of his maturity. Verduzco also said Martinez is healthy and “good to go.”

>> Held talked about JUCO running back signee Greg Bell first, calling him the best JUCO kid in the country. Held said Bell will give the running back room good competition; he will have to earn his spot, but Held feels like Bell adds a home run threat to the backfield, something the Huskers didn’t have a ton of last year.

He called Maurice Washington the same.

“The running back position at Nebraska, historically, has been a huge position,” Held said. “Getting these two guys, we feel like will help get us back to where it’s 'I-Back U’ or ‘Running Back U’ here at Nebraska.”

As you can expect, there was plenty of applause that followed that comment.

>> The defensive assistants — coordinator Erik Chinander, defensive line coach Mike Dawson and linebackers coach Barrett Ruud — came out to the same reception, though Ruud received a customary “Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud” call from the crowd.

Chinander said he actually called his parents in shock over the spring game sellout.

“This is like no place on Earth, I’m so happy to be here,” he said.

Chinander also said Cam Jones and CJ Smith are two of his favorite guys in this class. Said he loves the size, loves the physicality, loves the personality.

“He’ll really come up and hit your ass,” Chinander said of Jones.

Chinander also dropped a nugget about recent commit Cam Taylor

“When we were at UCF, he was committed to Missouri. I could not get him, he was not going to leave an SEC school to go to UCF,” Chinander said. “When I told him ‘hey, guess what, I’ve got a new shirt on, it’s way better,’ he said ‘coach I think I’m in.’”

>> Ruud called JUCO linebacker Will Honas his “handpicked middle linebacker.” Ruud said Honas will play inside and not outside, checks all of his boxes and “was born to be playing football in Lincoln, Nebraska.” 

Ruud also said Caleb Tannor will play the Sam linebacker spot for the Huskers. Ruud said recruiting him was similar to recruiting Taylor.

>> Chinander probably dropped the line of the day when discussing the weight the Nebraska “N” still holds with people.

“College football isn’t as good,” he said, “when Nebraska isn’t Nebraska.”

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