LINCOLN — Nebraska’s walk-on program is under new management.
First-year NU coach Mike Riley announced Thursday that he’s hired Chris Brasfield, an assistant at Oregon State for the past four seasons, to be the Huskers’ director of high school relations.
It’s a multi-faceted position that Riley mentioned he wanted to create back in January. The job responsibilities include the formation of each year’s walk-on class — Brasfield will be communicating directly with local coaches and prospects. But he will also help oversee interactions with NFL teams, whether it’s coordinating pro day or facilitating scouts’ appearances at practices or whatever else is needed.
“Chris will play a key role in the administration of our football program as we continue to develop relationships with high school coaches throughout the region, and also build on the great walk-on tradition at Nebraska,” Riley said in a statement released Thursday. “Chris will bring great energy to this position and has an eye for identifying and evaluating talent. Chris has experience at the professional, college and high school levels which helps make him an excellent fit for this job.”
Recruiting appeared to be one of Brasfield’s talents while on staff at Oregon State. He was named one of the nation’s top 50 recruiters by 247Sports in 2012. The San Antonio native spent much of his time canvassing the Texas area for prospects, specifically his hometown and Houston, and the rest of the southeastern portion of the state.
Brasfield held several positions across all levels before joining the Beavers as a graduate assistant in 2010. He’s been an intern for the Tennessee Titans (2009) and Oakland Raiders (2000). He was an area scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2001 and 2002). He’s worked at high schools in Fort Worth, Texas, and Chicago. He also coached the running backs at Samford from 2006 to 2010.
But he’ll be mostly assigned to interact with Nebraskans now, a responsibility that will certainly be monitored closely by those who follow the team.
It’s well documented that walk-ons hold a legendary place in the history of Husker football.
Former coach Bo Pelini and ex-operations director Jeff Jamrog made that a priority during the past seven years, awarding 31 walk-on players with scholarships in that stretch. Spencer Long, a third-round NFL draft pick, was probably the biggest star of them all, but nearly each season’s two-deep seemed to include a handful of one-time walk-ons.
Riley gets that, too. He’s already mentioned several times — even digressing from his main point to tell some of his favorite success stories during press conferences — that he’s always valued walk-ons.
“Believe me, I am all for it,” Riley said the day he was hired. “I think that they add tons to the program. You absolutely need them for the program to function properly.”
Really, it doesn’t appear that Riley plans to make the annual assembling of the walk-on class a one-person job.
It’s quite possible that Kenny Wilhite, a former Husker, could assist Brasfield as well. Riley noted on signing day that Wilhite played an integral role as NU worked to finish the 2015 recruiting class, especially with the in-state recruits.
Wilhite, hired by Pelini last offseason, was promoted Thursday to associate director of player personnel.
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