Riley: The 'Calibraska' movement is real
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley continued his tour around the state on Thursday. He made stops to Kearney, Lexington and North Platte. Here was everything he had to say during his stop in Kearney.
Click on this LINK to listen to his entire interview in Lexington with KRVN's Jayson Jorgensen.
What is your take on this "Calibraska movement" that's happening with Nebraska and recruiting?
"I think the Calibraska movement is real. It's a real deal. One of the main reasons is those guys that have committed here from California and have signed here last year, all visited here, so they have a great feel for what this place is really truly all about. It's a great, great, great college town. There's great history in the program and all the facilities they could ever want. The other thing that they've learned is that the people here really care. Our fans have played a major role in the recruitment in some of these athletes and they can take great pride in that."
How has John Parrella blended in as your new defensive line coach?
"I'm really proud to have John and his family here with us. John was a terrific guy to coach. One of the best that I ever had and one of the most responsible, reliable, consistent, stable - same guy every day. He's what a pro would call a pro. He's just a great teammate.
"I think if Junior Seau were alive today the guy he might say he respected the most on our team was John Parrella. I can't give a guy any better compliment than that. He's taken all that as he was as a player and put it into coaching. He's already impressed our guys at the defensive line position and I think made an impact on them in spring ball. I told him not too long ago 'John I did not hire you because you went to Nebraska, I hired you because of the qualities that you have and basically the expertise you'll bring to the position here. There is a great bonus though and that is you are from Nebraska. You know what it means to go to school here.'
"He is very thankful for what the University did for him. I know he's so proud to be back and we are proud to have him."
Mike Riley on Grand Island native Ryker Fyfe and the outlook for him in 2016
"I really like Ryker a lot. I think he's got a lot of really specific good talents at quarterback. His release is really good. His accuracy is good. I think Ryker can be a 70 percent completion percentage guy. He's kind of a cool customer. I think if he had more opportunity to play, he's got to earn that, because he right now is our back-up quarterback. I'm glad that he is though, because I think he's a good player."
What is the plan for you and the staff this summer?
"This month our coaches will finish up on the road. They are out there recruiting. Our players will come back at the end of the month and start the off-season program for the summer on June 1 and start summer school on June 6. Then they'll head into summer school and do the workouts up until we go to Fall Camp. We're always going to split our time in football and what we need to do technically and strategically in football, and then recruiting. Our life is always a juggle with coaching our current team and recruiting our next team. They are both top, top priorities."
What did the UCLA game do for your program heading into 2016?
"We got some momentum going into the year. I think our team was playing the best football we played all year in the last month of the season, capped off by the bowl game. What you want to do is continue to show your players and confirm to them that what you are doing is going to work. We just keep doing it, repeating it, get better at it and growing at it and it is truly a kickoff to this next year.
"So the confidence that we had coming out of that game I think was very important and the work that we did in the off-season program and kind of the smoothness in which we went through spring ball. It was way different then a year ago, just because everybody had a little bit of trust and a little bit of knowledge and also I think had a lot of fun with it."
What did you learn the most in year one?
"People might think it might be about opponents and about the place and about the crowds and all that, but it's really mostly about the team. I think the most important thing we learned was about our own team, the individuals on our team, who they are, what their specific talents are, how we can help them and that's probably the biggest, biggest factor in what we do in our jobs."
How proud are you of Hastings native Zach Sterup and how he stuck with it last year?
"I'm really proud of Zach Sterup. He went with through a time where most players would've folded their tent a year ago. He wasn't starting and had been a starter previously, but he kept a great attitude and kept working. We made a move and put him back in as a starter, he just took it and ran with it and really finished the year. I think that was a big reason why we played better in the last month of the season. I'm really proud of him and glad I got to coach him even though for a short time in one year, and I think he's got a shot in the NFL. He had a really good pro day, he's in great shape and he's smart and he's really tough. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with that opportunity."
What's your take on the high expectations for this team in 2016?
"I know that sounds funny with a 5-7 record coming out the regular season, but I really believe we can take that next step. I'm excited about that. I'm not going to make any big, bold predictions, but I am very excited about our opportunity to play for the championship this year."