Former Husker standout and defensive line coach John Parrella knows the excitement and challenges in his new role. The three time All-Big Eight defensive tackle was an obvious talent for Nebraska during his time in the early 90’s which led to a 12 year career in the NFL. He has had his “hand in the dirt” when describing himself and other coaches to current players and recruits.
Speaking Thursday morning at the Omaha World Herald Big Red Breakfast, Parrella spoke on the reason for the high interest in playing for Nebraska. “There’s a reason why former NFL players are calling me for us to recruit their kids, because our staff has actually been there and done that.”
The Husker coaching staff has continued to create a buzz on the recruiting front but what about 2016? Parrella understands the defensive line doesn’t have the luxury of bringing players along for the next two years and that the young talent will need an immediate impact. He also seems excited about the athleticism and development of this group.
The biggest takeaway I had from hearing Parrella speak Thursday morning was there are several players that could emerge as difference makers up front. There was a lot of praise for Ross Dzuris who according to Parrella had the best defensive grade from the spring game.
“The Twins” (Carlos and Kahlil Davis) have also put on solid weight and are expected to step up. I also heard the names Peyton Newell, Mick Stoltenberg and Logan Rath as players Parrella was optimistic about. The questions surrounding this unit will be ongoing for at least the early portion of the season. Other than senior Kevin Maurice, a good portion of this line will be largely untested.
Coach Parrella seems extremely comfortable with the challenge in front of him and why shouldn’t he be? He has experienced success at every level both as a player and coach. Student athletes tend to appreciate that and will work for a guy that brings in the credentials that Parrella possesses.
There is no question there will be obstacles in the process but if there is reason for optimism, it’s that John Parrella is back in a familiar place, in a football culture he understands, with eager men willing to do what it takes for a guy they know had the career that most aim for.