As the fax machine was bringing home the National Letters of Intent on signing day in the Nebraska football office, Mike Riley praised the job done by his assistant coaches in compiling the Huskers’ 2016 signing class.
It was the current staff’s first real trip through an NU recruiting cycle after Riley made his hires in December 2014 and January 2015 after replacing Bo Pelini.
“I’ve learned that this is a consistent group,” Riley said during the NU National Signing Day Special on Huskers.com. “They’re good with our players, they’re good as they represent our university, and I’ve had many great comments from families and from high school coaches about our staff.
“We always want to portray this university and this state at the highest level when we go into schools and homes, and I’ve felt very comfortable about how we did all that through the last year.”
It’s not an easy job, Riley said, considering that an assistant has a split job description when it comes to handling the current team and helping to recruit the next one.
“You’ve got to be able to balance your life in evaluating and recruiting of the next group, and then coaching your team and making sure you’re mentoring your players correctly,” Riley said. “And neither one of those jobs ever have a pass. You have to do that continually.”
Some other Riley comments from his segment with NU play-by-play voice and Huskers.com host Greg Sharpe:
>> Riley said somebody like quarterback Patrick O’Brien reveals their character when they commit early, see their recruiting attention escalate and still stay with the school they initially picked.
“It shows who they are as people,” Riley said. “He’s a guy that we have found we can rely on. And that will be a great trait as we go forward in football with Patrick.”
>> O’Brien and receiver Derrion Grim signed early and enrolled last month at NU. Just as Dedrick Young, Avery Anderson, Eric Lee and Aaron Williams did a year ago. Riley said he is “all for it” if a player wants to do it, plans it out and has it as a goal.
“Now I don’t go in encouraging that,” Riley said. “It has to be the right guy with the right frame of mind.”
>> Riley said the start of this offseason has been way more enjoyable than a year ago, when the Huskers were going through winter conditioning but still building relationships with the new staff.
“It was a strange feeling,” Riley said. “We knew the recruits better than we knew our team, and that’s not good. It’s not very comfortable. So it’s good to have our feet on the ground in some of those areas that are way different than one year ago.”
>> On the injury front, Riley said safety Antonio Reed underwent a recent surgical procedure and will miss spring practice. Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey “had his knee looked at again,” but Riley didn’t offer specifics. Riley said receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El is doing well and in good spirits after his knee surgery last fall.
“Those are the kinds of things that it’s better to get to early, and they get back as soon as they can in the late spring (or) early summer, and should be fully ready to go by the fall,” Riley said. “You hate to miss them in spring ball, but you like to have them in the season. Everything points toward August right now.”