Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule makes first three staff hires

Matt Rhule in action during the game a(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Matt Rhule in action during the game a(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

New Nebraska football head coach isn’t wasting any time at all putting together his Husker staff. Just ahead of a press conference where he’ll officially be announced to Nebraska media, it appears the new hire has already got at least three members of his new staff.

While nothing is officially official, as the Nebraska football staff are only coming from various reports, the first three staff members certainly sounds like they’re going to be coming from Lincoln. Unsurprisingly, all three of the first additions have been with Rhule for quite a while and all three were with him when he was coaching for the Carolina Panthers.

Joe Person, who covers the Panthers for The Athletic reported on Twitter that assistant strength coach Corey Campbell and assistant defensive line coach Terrance Knighton are both leaving Carolina effectively immediately. Those names surfaced just a few hours after news that Evan Cooper who was the defensive backs coach for the Panthers under Rhule was coming the Huskers as well.

Despite none of the three being official, it’s not hard to figure out where these puzzle pieces are going to fith. Cooper has been a defensive backs and recruiting coordinator under Rhule since his Temple days. At the very least, his addition to the Nebraska football program would seem to mean that Travis Fischer is out. It’s unclear what it might mean for Bill Busch, who was the recruiting coordinator under Mickey Joseph.

Knighton would seem to be taking over for Mike Dawson, who had two different stints as the defensive line coach for the Huskers under Scott Frost and carried over to Joseph’s staff when some of his colleagues were fired.

Campbell appears to be pushing out Huskers strength and conditioning coaching Zach Duval, who has held that position since day one of the Scott Frost era. Campbell was Rhule’s strength and conditioning coach at Baylor, and before that he was an assistant strength coach at Purdue, meaning that he has an idea at least what it takes to do the job in the Big 10.

Interestingly, Knighton isn’t a long-time coaching disciple under Rhule. He first started coaching with the now-Nebraska football coach in Carolina in 2021. Before that, he was the defensive line coach at Wagner. Knighton did play his college ball at Temple, but he graduated in 2009, four years before Rhule took over the program there. He also had an eight-year career as a defensive lineman with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and New England Patriots.

Nebraska football fans might notice that for now, Rhule has left the offensive staff unfilled. Defensive coordinator is also still open. One has to wonder if that might signal that a few Husker assistants from that side of the ball will be announced at the press conference set for 1:30 pm on Monday.