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Nebraska DC Tony White ready for ‘next phase’ as spring camp looms

Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White speaks during a news conference, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Tony White considers himself fully entrenched at Nebraska. He has proof in his wallet.

The defensive coordinator has long held a California driver’s license as a former UCLA linebacker who later coached at San Diego State for nearly a decade. He kept it through stops at Arizona State (2018-19) and Syracuse (2020-22).

After three months on the job in Lincoln, he’s already the owner of a new Nebraska card.

“We blitz from Play 1 so we’re going to do this thing right,” White said on the Husker Radio Network on Monday. “… I’m here. I’m done. Let’s go.”

It’s been an enlightening start to the offseason for the 43-year-old getting to know players through winter meals and conversations. He’s watched Husker games from last season and saw players with good “movement skills,” size and length. He’s seen recent physical gains from them through conditioning.

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“Now you turn to the next phase of it all,” White said. “Get them in pads and see if that translates over.”

New Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White speaks during his first news conference on Friday at Memorial Stadium. For more, visit

White has a sense of defensive leaders, naming Florida transfer linebacker Chief Borders along with NU veteran ‘backers Nick Henrich and Luke Reimer. Nickelback Isaac Gifford too. And nickel John Bullock — a walk-on from Creighton Prep — who flashed his explosive athleticism with basketball dunks during the team’s competitive “commitment week.”

The onset of spring practices next week will represent a “new slate,” White said. NU coaches will turn players loose and start making firsthand football evaluations on everything from early pecking orders to potential position shifts. It will play out across 15 practices in a month as the Huskers receive as much scheme install as they can handle.

“You want to get stuff on film,” White said. “You want to see them in those positions to make plays. You want to see how their natural instincts take over. You want to throw as much at them as you can now and then taper back versus not having enough and trying to put it in in the fall.”

White did a double take when informed NU has already sold roughly 45,000 spring-game tickets for the April 22 exhibition. “That’s more than a lot of Pac-12 games in the fall,” he said.

White is the one teaching his 3-3-5 scheme to the defensive staff but said it’s been a collaborative effort as coaches continue to align on terminology and instruction points. He continues to learn as much or more from coach Matt Rhule as he’s teaching — “He’s the program builder; he’s a guru at what he does,” White said.

The best word to sum up his experience at Nebraska so far is “process,” White said. Soaking in what makes young men successful as players and professionals. Knowing the results will come because the daily work is being done and done well.

“When the process is right, you don’t need to talk about winning,” White said. “That comes with the process. (Rhule) is building a football program here. That’s what we’re here to do. Seeing how he goes about it day by day is truly amazing.”

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Seeking out “winners,” Matt Rhule delivered a recruiting class that no one would have predicted last month, writes Luke Mullin.

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From recruiting to quarterbacks to disagreeing with a narrative about the offensive line, here are our takeaways after hearing from Husker coach Matt Rhule.

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Gunnar Gottula’s recruitment started at home during the pandemic. It came to an end in the same place Wednesday morning. More from a unique but special Signing Day ceremony.

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After an up-and-down month of uncertainty for Malachi Coleman, he’s decided to end up at the same place he started: Nebraska.

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Matt Rhule’s heard it on his team and, well, everywhere around town: Nebraska’s offensive line was the biggest problem on a 4-8 squad last season. And he’s not buying it.

“I even had people in the NFL say, ‘Hey, you need to go get this guy.’ Everyone recognizes he’s an NFL talent,” said Matt Rhule of the Georgia Tech transfer. 

On early signing day for prep prospects, Nebraska is also welcoming in a veteran receiver transfer from the Big 12.

“There have been some other schools that have gotten in here and made some headway recruiting Nebraska. That’s over. We’re coming in now.”

A signing day mostly filled with good news for Nebraska now includes one decommitment. Wide receiver Barry Jackson flipped to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

“Some guys, if they went in and they called me and they said, ‘Hey, I want to come back,’ I’d say I think it’s best if you do move on.”​ Rhule says he’s open to bringing some transfers back. But not all

Defensive tackle Vincent Carroll-Jackson, who just played his first year of football, flipped his commitment from Syracuse to Nebraska on signing day.

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The Huskers received another Philadelphia-area commit when Texas A&M transfer Elijah Jeudy announced he was headed to Nebraska.

Matt Rhule already had the recipe. He believes the Huskers are adding a bunch of the right ingredients with the 2023 class to start whipping up a program turnaround.

Nebraska signee Goldman on team goals: “Short term, a bowl game,” he said. “Long term, a national championship.” 

A late Nebraska push to land Lincoln High’s Beni Ngoyi has fallen just short, as Iowa State announced that Ngoyi has signed with the Cyclones.

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