Coach Bo Pelini is well known as one of college football’s top defensive minds. Pelini has been tutored by some of the best defensive minds in the game. He began his career under Hayden Fry with the Iowa Hawkeyes. While with the Hawkeyes, Pelini got his start alongside Mark Stoops who is currently the head coach at Kentucky but is also well known as a man with great defensive intuition. Pelini further mastered his craft in the Professional ranks with the San Francisco 49ers from 1994 through 1996 where he learned defensive tactics from the likes of Ray Rhodes and Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks). Pelini was also given opportunities in the college ranks under head coaches who know a little about defense in LSU’s Les Miles and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops.
Pelini learned from many of the game’s great teachers and when given the opportunity to do the teaching himself, he has done a very good job, particularly with his specialty, defensive players. In Pelini’s first stint with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he was able to put three defensive players into the NFL – Scott Shanle, Chris Kelsey and Dejuan Groce. Of course after the 2003 season, Pelini was somewhat of a fan favorite of many members of Husker Nation and had aspirations of succeeding Frank Solich as the next Husker head coach. Then Athletic Director Steve Peterson decided to go with a coach with head coaching experience in the NFL and choose Bill Callahan forcing the then spurned Pelini to move on.
Since Pelini’s return to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he has maintained a very respectable reputation as a man who can really coach defensive football. In 2008, Pelini’s first season back with the Huskers sent linebacker Bo Rudd to the New England Patriots and Zac Bowman to the Chicago Bears. In 2009, running back turned linebacker Cody Glenn was the first Husker selected in the draft. 2010 proved to be another successful draft as the two of Pelini’s defensive players moved on to the NFL, Safety Larry Assante and Ndamukong Suh who was selected in the first round and for better or worse has went on to be one of the faces of the Detroit Lions. In 2011, DeJon Gomes, Eric Hagg, Prince Amukamara, all came out of Pelini’s secondary to be drafted. In the 2012 draft, three very productive defensive players were selected from the University of Nebraska in Jared Crick, Alfonzo Dennard and LaVonte David. In fact, last season was the only season under Pelini where there were not two Husker defensive players selected in the draft as Daimion Stafford was choose to play safety for the Tennessee Titans. Since 2008, Coach Pelini and his staff have put at least one defensive specialist in the NFL through the draft and a total of 12 former Husker defenders were selected.
The cold weather and wind that Lincoln Nebraska offers may not be useful recruiting tools for the Husker coaching staff. The proven ability to get the most out of players and motivate them to go above and beyond their potential should be a major draw to the Nebraska Cornhusker Football program. Once again in 2014, Coach Pelini will undoubtedly bring in another top-notch class of defensive players to represent his program.