Mike Riley may have all of his full-time assistant coaches in place, but one critical hire remains.

The Husker head football coach expects he'll soon fill a position that specializes in in-state and walk-on recruiting. As Riley describes it, though, the job has more layers than that.

"I think we need a guy that is a good Nebraska high school coaches' liaison — when they want to come to practice, when we're going to put on a clinic. Frankly, just developing a relationship for us in that area," Riley said during an interview with Journal Star reporters Friday.

In short, the person must know the state's prep football scene inside and out.

"He can't be a guy that goes out recruiting, but he can be the organizer, he can be the guy that has the greatest handle on all the prospects in Nebraska," Riley said.

Actually, that's Nebraska and beyond.

"Sometimes when I'm talking about Nebraska, I might be talking about Nebraska, I might also be talking about Sioux Falls, South Dakota, too. And Council Bluffs. Maybe even Kansas City.

"We want this guy to be the expert. So when we have that meeting about local recruits, he knows the top-20 guys in Nebraska. He knows the guys we're going to offer. He knows the top guys we want to walk on so we don't miss anything. I don't want guys leaving here and going to Iowa and being a good player. That might happen, but it won't happen without a fight."

Iowa senior defensive lineman Drew Ott immediately comes to mind for some. An eight-man star at Giltner, and the state Gatorade player of the year, the former Husker staff did not offer him a scholarship coming out of high school.

While recruiting is an inexact science, with different coaches having different preferences, Ott has started 25 of 26 games for the Hawkeyes the past two years, posting 7½ sacks last season, and a 12-yard touchdown return against Nebraska after a botched punt.

"You look stupid when you play against kids you could have gotten," Ryan Gunderson, Nebraska's director of player personnel, told reporters a few weeks ago. "So we need to do our homework, at least recruit them, at least give them a shot, see them, have them at camp, have them at games."

You have to be on the ball, because coaches from schools in surrounding states continue to come into the state. North Dakota State, South Dakota State and South Dakota are among the FCS programs that offer scholarships to Nebraska kids who could be walk-on candidates for the Huskers.

There's also neighboring FBS school Wyoming, coached by former Husker player and coach Craig Bohl. Right after taking the job, Bohl announced "another area we are going to look hard into is Nebraska."

Wyoming's 2015 recruiting class included Bellevue West wide receiver C.J. Johnson.

Given all that, it's understandable that Riley places so much value on a hire that he says is "very, very important." 

"This is a catch-all job, as you can see. He will also be the pro scouts liaison. That doesn't sound like a big deal, except it takes a lot of time. Because, during the season, you almost have pro scouts come by every day. And you need somebody to do a nice job with them and represent our players well. So that guy is really, really important to me."

The job will also require the person hired to have a leading role in showing around both official and unofficial visitors.

"If we're out practicing, he will be that guy that takes care of that family, and that is a huge part of the job," Riley said. "It's a great job. We've parlayed it into a position that is going to be very important to both the initial and finishing touches to getting a player signed."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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