Taking a look at the three most impactful Husker assistant coaches in the 2018 class
Another year down, another crazy finish for the Huskers on signing day. Nebraska fans experienced snow delays, hats knocked off tables, t-shirt decoys, and even had a great walk-on surprise on signing day this year. For all the hoopla and drama, the Husker coaching staff assembled one of the best recruiting classes over the last five years and did it in only two months’ time.
With a new staff in place, many Husker fans wondered how coach Frost was going to replace recruiting guru’s Keith Williams and Donte Williams from the prior staff and they not disappoint.
Enter Husker alumni Ryan Held, UCF legend Sean Beckton, and quarterback’s guru Mario Verduzco who helped close some of the most important recruits in the Huskers 2018 class.
Running Backs Coach Ryan Held
Notable recruits: Maurice Washington, Greg Bell, Cam’ron Jones, and Jaron Woodyard
No one was more tenacious on the trail than running backs coach Ryan Held. Held crisscrossed the United States for 7 weeks straight checking in with junior college players, husker alumni, and even found time to swing by and see his peers at Highland Community College where he used to be the head coach.
He logged thousands of frequent flyer miles and told reporters exactly what
“Whatever it takes — within the rules — to make this deal what it needs to be, I’ll do it. Some people hate recruiting. I love it,” Held told reporters on Monday.
To be successful in recruiting you have to be able to make connections with not only a player but their family, coaching staff, and friends. Held’s passion tracking recruiting as a young kid transitioned into success in recruiting as he honed his recruiting skills.
— Coach Kyler Reed (@Kspeeeed25) February 2, 2018
“I love meeting people,” Held said. “I love meeting people that you’d never meet in your lifetime. We don’t get all the kids. But there’s kids that you know are going to be successful in life.”
Recruiting is a grind and its well-documented with some coaches in how they don’t like to recruit and believe it’s a necessary evil. Coach Held’s tenacity and work ethic as a former walk-on split end for Nebraska in the 90’s has carried over onto the recruiting trail.
“If you’re not willing to do the extra phone call, the extra text … you know, when I’m at a stoplight, I get anxiety because I want to send two more text messages to recruits because I feel like another coach is going to beat me,” said Held on Sports Nightly recently.
For his relentless effort on the recruiting trail Held was named one of Rivals.com top 25 recruiters in 2018.
Tight-Ends Coach Sean Beckton
Notable recruits: Caleb Tannor, Katerian Legrone, and Justin McGriff.
Coach Sean Beckton was one of the Huskers last pieces to fall into place with Frost’s new staff but an opportunity to branch out from UCF and network beyond the southeast proved to be the deciding factor in coach Beckton’s decision to leave the Sunshine State.
One of the things Beckton didn’t leave in Florida was his ability to recruit against some of the top programs in the country. In addition to tight-ends Katerian Legrone and Justin McGriff coach Beckton was responsible for landing talented outside linebacker Caleb Tannor for the Big Red.
Barrett Ruud spilled the beans during a signing day recap event letting the crowd know just how instrumental Beckton was in landing the talented Tannor out of Florida.
“If you see Sean Beckton walking around the streets, go shake his hand because that was all him right there,” Ruud said. “He did a great job recruiting Caleb. Caleb is going to be one of our SAM linebackers. It’s a huge get for us because our SAM position is kind of a jack of all trades.”
Beckton was a longtime standout for UCF in his playing days and for the last 19 years has been a superb coach for the Golden Knights. Considered to have deep ties in the Southeast, Beckton opens up the doors in Florida but more importantly into the state of Georgia.
Georgia, if you didn’t know, is one of the most talent-rich areas in the entire country and annually puts out dozens of top players. According to 247sports.com 2019 player rankings, the state of Georgia has 40 4-star caliber players and 4 5-star players rated today.
Both Caleb Tannor and Katerian Legrone are Georgia natives so if coach Beckton can pull 3-5 players out of Georgia and Florida each year, look out.
Keep an eye on Beckton in the 2019 class. With the resources and credibility, Nebraska offers him he could be in for a monumental year of recruiting. He’s landed talented players at UCF and is primed to do so again Nebraska.
Quarterback’s Coach Mario Verduzco
Notable Recruits: Adrian Martinez
There is no shortage of coaches you could put into this third slot for Nebraska with the work they did in such a short period. That said, in the 2018 class the Huskers needed to make an early splash and coach Verduzco worked quickly to provide one.
Verduzco landed highly touted dual-threat quarterback Adrian Martinez for Nebraska. If you followed along closely you would have noticed coach Verduzco crisscrossing the country from FL to CA and back several times to build up a relationship with Martinez. In a ten-day span, he went from offering the California signal caller, getting Martinez on campus, and finally landing a verbal commitment to the early enrollee.
— Adrian Martinez (@MartinezTheQB) December 5, 2017
Recruiting is about much more than a coach’s ability to coach up a player. Frist and foremost it’s about being able to quickly create genuine relationships with players and their families. Once you’ve done that you can start moving on to how you’re going to develop someone.
“He’s more than just a coach. He’s a father figure. He’s a mentor,” former UNI quarterback Eric Sanders told 247sports. “He’s a guy you can create a lifelong relationship with and whoever gets to play for him is truly lucky.”
If the Huskers are going to succeed, coach Verduzco’s quarterback will be an important part of that equation. The early indications of Verduzco point towards a guy who can not only coach up a quarterback but also be a part of their life for years to come.