LINCOLN — Scott Frost’s first assistant coaching staff at Nebraska will be a carbon copy of his last staff at Central Florida.
Nebraska officially announced on Friday three final additions — offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Troy Walters, tight ends coach Sean Beckton and strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval — to Frost's coaching staff on Friday. All three worked under Frost at UCF.
The seven previous announced NU assistants all worked for Frost at UCF, too. That staff that helped produce a 12-0 season at UCF and will try to do the same with the Huskers.
Walters will make $700,000 with the Huskers; he becomes the second-highest paid NU assistant behind defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. Beckton will make $400,000 and Duval $375,000. Duval’s salary is a significant pay raise not only over what Duval made at UCF — $170,000 — but the $225,000 made by Duval’s predecessor at NU, Mark Philipp.
Duval, who began his strength and conditioning career at Nebraska in 1994, likely becomes one of the 15 highest-paid strength coaches in college football. According to USA Today’s database, Duval’s salary ties for 11th nationally, but the database doesn’t include salaries from schools such as Penn State, Notre Dame, USC and Stanford.
Walters, a Broyles Award finalist for the nation's top assistant, is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks. A first-team All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner at Stanford in 1999, Walters spent eight seasons in the NFL — four playing with Peyton Manning and the Colts — before starting his coaching career at Indiana State. He coached receivers at Texas A&M, North Carolina State and Colorado before Frost hired him to be UCF’s offensive coordinator and receivers coach in 2016. Frost called plays at UCF and may do so again at Nebraska.
Beckton had been a UCF stalwart. He played there and served nearly two decades — as a graduate assistant or regular assistant — under five head coaches, including Frost.
As a receivers coach, Beckton sent several players to the NFL, including All-Pro Brandon Marshall. He’s considered one of UCF’s best recruiters, in part because he knows the high schools in the area so well and even coached at Mainland High School in Florida for four seasons.
A member of UCF’s Hall of Fame with nearly 2,500 yards receiving as a collegian, Beckton was one of the few assistants Frost chose to retain from former coach George O’Leary’s staff. Beckton spurned an offer to remain on UCF’s staff working under new head coach Josh Heupel.
All three will receive two-year contracts through Dec.31, 2019, as will the other Husker assistants. Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos gave Frost $5 million to pay 10 assistants and Duval; thus far, Frost has spent $4.65 million of it. That leaves $350,000 for new linebackers coach Barrett Ruud — whose hiring will be announced in January when the NCAA officially allows teams to add a tenth assistant. Frost also has the option of paying Ruud less and rolling over some of the money into support staff salaries so long as Moos approves.
More of Nebraska’s former support staff members performed their last day of work on Friday. One, Associate Director of Player Personnel Todd McShane, thanked Husker fans on Twitter.
“Best of luck to all the players, recruits, and families I've met along the way,” McShane tweeted. “I'll be cheering for you.”
McShane’s direct boss, director of football operations Dan Van De Riet, is returning to Oregon State to fulfill the same role on the Beavers' new coaching staff. OSU hired former Beavers quarterback Jonathan Smith — who in turn hired his former head coach, Mike Riley, to serve as an assistant head coach.
Any salary Riley receives in the role will reduce any buyout Nebraska owes him.
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Erik Chinander, defensive coordinator
Chinander has spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at UCF. A 2016 Broyles Award nominee as the nation’s top assistant, Chinander comes to Lincoln after leading a dramatic defensive turnaround. His UCF defense allowed 12.5 fewer points in 2017 than it did in the season before his arrival. Chinander’s defense also ranked fourth nationally in takeaways in 2017. Chinander spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the outside linebackers coach at Oregon, after serving on the Philadelphia Eagles defensive staff in 2013. Chinander has been on the staff of one FCS and two FBS teams that have played in a national championship game.
Troy Walters, offensive coordinator / wide receivers coach
Troy Walters served as Scott Frost’s offensive coordinator at Central Florida the past two seasons. One of the nation’s top assistant coaches, the 2017 Broyles Award Finalist has six years of Power Five experience in his nine years as a collegiate assistant.
Greg Austin, offensive line coach
A former Nebraska offensive lineman, Austin brings eight years of coaching experience to the Husker staff. Austin has spent a total of five seasons working on offensive staffs with Frost, including the past two seasons as UCF’s offensive line coach. Austin helped the UCF offensive line rank among the national leaders in fewest sacks allowed in 2017, while heading into the bowl season ranked first in the nation in scoring and fifth in total offense. Austin also has three seasons of NFL coaching experience, working on Chip Kelly’s Eagles staff from 2013 to 2015. Austin made 18 career starts as an offensive guard at Nebraska and was an honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick in 2006.
Jovan Dewitt, outside linebackers/special teams coach
Dewitt brings a wealth of experience to the Nebraska staff, with 18 overall years of coaching experience, including nine seasons as a defensive coordinator and four years as a special teams coordinator. Dewitt spent the past two seasons as the associate head coach at Central Florida, where he worked with the linebackers and served as special teams coordinator. In 2017, Dewitt’s linebackers helped UCF rank third in the AAC in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. Dewitt has previous college FBS experience at Army and Florida Atlantic and worked on the staff at Northern Iowa from 2009 to 2011.
Mario Verduzco, quarterbacks coach
Verduzco brings 41 years of coaching experience to the Nebraska staff, including serving as both a junior college and high school head coach. Verduzco served as the UCF quarterbacks coach the past two seasons and directed the development of McKenzie Milton, who was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in 2017. Milton completed better than 69 percent of his passes this season, while throwing for 3,795 yards and a school-record 35 touchdowns. Verduzco was Missouri State’s offensive coordinator in 2015, after a 14-year stint with Northern Iowa, working on the same staff as Frost for two seasons. Verduzco spent five seasons at Rutgers from 1996 to 2000, and prior to that coached for 19 seasons at various levels in his home state of California.
Mike Dawson, defensive line coach
Dawson brings 19 years of coaching experience to Nebraska, including the past two seasons on the UCF staff and three years of experience in the National Football League. At UCF, Dawson’s defensive line ranked fourth in the AAC in rushing defense in 2017 and two of his three starting defensive linemen earned all-conference honors. Dawson spent three seasons on Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles staff from 2013 to 2015, working with the defensive line. Dawson also has college coaching stops at several schools, including Boston College, Akron, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh and Maine.
Ryan Held, running backs coach
Held returns to his alma mater with 17 years of college coaching experience, including 12 seasons as a head coach. On Frost’s staff at UCF the past two seasons, Held has coached the running backs as the Knights led the nation in scoring offense in 2017, while ranking fifth in total offense. Held previously made a name in the coaching community as a successful junior college, Division II and NAIA head coach. Held served as a head coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Highland (Kan.) CC, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Panhandle State and Peru State. Held was a part of two national championship teams in 1994 and 1995 as a walk-on receiver for the Huskers, and began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant on Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team.
Travis Fisher, defensive backs coach
A former NFL cornerback, Fisher joins Frost’s staff after working on the UCF defensive staff for the past two seasons. Fisher’s defensive backs were a big reason why the Knights recorded 55 takeaways and scored eight defensive touchdowns over the past two seasons. In 2017, UCF ranked fifth nationally with 18 interceptions. Fisher had two defensive backs earn first-team All-AAC honors and UCF ranked in the top 20 nationally in interceptions. A former Knight cornerback, Fisher was selected in the second round of the 2002 Draft by the St. Louis Rams and played eight seasons in the NFL. He began his coaching career at UCF in 2013, spent one season at Southeast Missouri State and has been in Orlando the past three seasons.
Sean Beckton, tight ends coach
Sean Beckton will be a first-year Husker assistant in 2018 after previously spending his entire coaching career in Florida. A 22-year coaching veteran, Beckton spent 19 seasons coaching at Central Florida, his alma mater, including serving as the Knights’ tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator under Scott Frost the past two seasons.
Zach Duval, strength and conditioning coach
Zach Duval previously worked as a Husker student assistant (1994), graduate assistant (1995-96) and assistant football strength coach (1997-2002 and 2008). Duval spent the past two seasons as the director of sports performance for football at Central Florida, where he also oversaw the school’s entire sports performance department.