In an interview with 590 AM The Drive on Thursday, Nebraska coach Mike Riley said he's personally handling the hiring of Nebraska's new defensive line coach, and he has a list of about 50 coaches' names on it.
That's a lot of candidates to potentially replace Hank Hughes, who will not return next season after one year as the NU defensive line coach.
Riley said Nebraska wants to hire a candidate quickly, but also must perform due diligence.
“It’s a hard decision to make a change, and then it’s a hard decision to make sure you get the right personnel in place,” Riley said. “The one comforting thing is we have really good candidates right now, (we’re) zeroing in and making sure we get the right guy for the staff.”
Riley said the responsibility is his to evaluate the candidates — “it’s one of those lonely decisions you have to make,” he said — but he also listens to his staff members and their recommendations.
One target to watch closely is UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure, who served on former NU coach Bill Callahan’s Husker staff in 2004 and 2005 as a graduate assistant. McClure still evaluates talent in Nebraska, serves as UCLA’s recruiting coordinator — handling admission requirements, among other things — and recruits well in California. He was the No. 60 recruiter in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports. In the 2014 class, he was No. 25 nationally and No. 3 in the Pac-12.
Last summer, McClure attended one of Nebraska’s summer camps as his son, a quarterback, participated in it.
More Riley thoughts from the interview:
» Riley said one top priority of spring football is determining which offensive linemen can help replace three departed starters and which young defensive linemen will step up in the absence of starters Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine, both of whom declared early for the NFL draft. Riley said the situations at running back, wide receiver and quarterback “look pretty good.”
Riley also wants to improve on pass defense.
“We played some good run defense, but we were not good enough pass defense-wise,” Riley said. “We’ll have a really good evaluation of our coverages and techniques. Every part of that is going to be real important.”
» Nebraska needs a “complete turnaround” in turnovers and penalties, Riley said.
“When we won games and played well, we didn’t turn the ball over,” Riley said.