Mike Riley has described him as a man "destined to be a coach," a diligent student of the game who is good at teaching what the game has already taught him.
Now Danny Langsdorf is coming to teach at Nebraska, accepting a position as Riley's offensive coordinator.
“Just a chance to run the offense, call plays, be in charge in a place that has a lot of tradition and history,” Langsdorf told NJ.com while departing the New York Giants facility Tuesday. “And a place that — I don’t know the place, I know the people, that is a big part of it too, being familiar with a lot of the guys.”
It will be a reunion considering Langsdorf served from 2005-2013 as Riley’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Oregon State, before spending last year coaching Eli Manning for the NFL's Giants.
Former Oregon State tight end Joe Newton said the Riley-Langsdorf combination is formidable.
"Coach Riley, he's kind of an offensive genius. So it was really fun playing for that offense. And I think Coach Langsdorf came and maybe put his own touches on it,” said Newton, a Beaver from 2002-06. “I think they worked really well together. The end results were some really productive offenses.”
Langsdorf worked mostly with the quarterbacks, teaching the position he played in college — first at Boise State and then at the smaller Linfield College in Oregon.
When he talks to quarterbacks, he talks as someone who has been in their cleats. There’s a video of him on YouTube from three years back speaking a quarterbacks’ code during an Oregon State practice.
“Get your depth. That first step’s bad, Jack.”
“Step and throw, no hitch, there you go.”
“Good eyes, here.”
And so on.
"I think I have some understanding of what they're going through back there, and what they can see and what they can't and what it's like to have a 300-pounder running at you, trying to deliver a strike," Langsdorf later explained.
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Working in New York this season, the 42-year-old must have found some connection with Manning. After a rough 2013 season, Manning threw for 4,410 yards this year. His completion percentage jumped from 57.5 percent to 63.1 percent this year. He threw 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions a year after he threw 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin confirmed Langsford’s departure on Tuesday while meeting with New York media.
“He is leaving. It’s his choice,” Coughlin said. “You don’t expect someone to be here for a year, but that’s his decision. Wish him well. Let’s go.”
While he’s relatively young in the coaching game, Langsdorf has been some places.
He took over the offensive coordinator position at Oregon State after current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst left. Before that, he was an assistant for the New Orleans Saints from 2002-04, working with quarterbacks, wide receivers and special teams. Before that, he spent three years in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos.
That little bio doesn’t even get to one of the most interesting facts about Langsdorf: He donated a kidney in 2007 to Laurie Cavanaugh, the wife of Mike Cavanaugh, whom Riley has already hired as NU’s new offensive line coach.
Like Riley, Langsdorf is said to be good at adapting to his roster talent.
“They’re probably known as more of a passing offense,” Newton said. “But I’ve had a couple years with Coach Riley where we had rushers over 1,000 yards, very strong ground game, very balanced attack. They’re going to do whatever they can to win games. They’re really good at figuring that out.”
Riley and Langsdorf also are going to be aggressive.
Flashback to the last game of Newton’s career at Oregon State. It was the 2006 Sun Bowl against Missouri. The Beavers rallied in the fourth quarter. Newton caught a 14-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left to cut it to one point.
As officials reviewed the touchdown, it was decided by Beaver coaches that they were going for two points and the win.
Not only did Oregon State go for the win, it ran for the win, with Yvenson Bernard fighting into the end zone to deliver a 39-38 victory. Win No. 10 for the Beavers that year.
“One thing I’ll say about this coaching staff is they’re not afraid to take a chance, and go for a win or something like that,” Newton said. “Players that I’ve played with have loved playing for those guys. The flip side of that coin is they're not going to do something stupid. They’re very smart people.”