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Huskers

Former Husker defensive coordinator Charlie McBride

As we wait for official announcement that John Parrella is Nebraska's new defensive line coach, as reported here yesterday, how about getting some insight from a man who has coached Parrella and knows him better than most?

Former Husker defensive coordinator Charlie McBride describes Parrella as "a full-blown worker" who never took a play off. He is confident that will translate well as Parrella takes on his coaching assignment in Lincoln.

"I think that's what impressed a lot of the people in the NFL, is his attitude and work habits," McBride said.

The old coach saw firsthand how Parrella put those work habits to use when he started Valley Christian (California) High School from scratch and guided the Vikings to four straight North Coast Section Division IV playoff appearances.

McBride visited the school while Parrella was coaching there. "Those kids loved him."

So did Buck Nystrom, who coached McBride at Colorado, who lives up in Michigan and watched Parrella's work a lot while he was at Northern Michigan. Nystrom told McBride: "This kid's the real deal. He really can coach."

McBride said as soon as the Husker D-line coaching job came open, he mentioned Parrella to Mike Riley and Mark Banker. Riley already thought a good deal of Parrella, having coached him with the San Diego Chargers.

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"You talk to Mike, he'll tell you he was one of the best pros on and off the field he ever worked with," McBride said.

Yeah, but can he recruit? You know you've heard that question already.

From what McBride's heard, Parrella helped recruit about half the class this past year at Northern Michigan.

"He will work hard at recruiting. A lot of people are going to do the same thing they did to me, 'Who's this guy?' The younger generation doesn't have a clue who John Parrella is, so there's this, 'Why are we taking some guy from Northern Michigan? We should go get the best there is.' Well, John might be the best there is available. I don't know who the best there is, and I know a lot of coaches. Still, to this day, you never hear who the best there is. It's crazy that when you hear, 'We didn't get the top person we should have got.' ... I guarantee you one thing, they'll be happy with him."

It's an added bonus that Parrella came out of Grand Island Central Catholic, then worked his way from a walk-on to all-conference caliber as a Husker.

"Having a kid from the state who played at Nebraska, to me, fans need to understand that, 'Hey, these (coaches) aren't locked into California or something.' That's something that kind of impressed me about it," McBride said. "John knows the state, knows the people, which will be a plus on the staff as far as just being able to tell people what things are like. ... Plus, anybody who has the background in the NFL that John has is big-time as far as players are concerned."

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

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