LINCOLN – Jonathan Rutledge, who had previously worked at Auburn as a special teams analyst, will fill a similar role for the Huskers, he announced on Twitter.
Rutledge had worked for two seasons as a special teams analyst at Auburn. Prior to that, he’d worked at Missouri, North Carolina and Memphis in similar roles. His bio has been removed from Auburn’s website.
According to a source, Nebraska isn’t done hiring off-the-field personnel for its 2020 staff. NU’s 2020 coaching staff lists only a single analyst, Rutledge, and no graduate assistants. NU is expected to have a full complement of those staff members, but not all positions have been filled or decided yet.
Auburn had the nation’s No. 36 most efficient special teams last season, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. In 2018, Auburn ranked 37th. Although the Tigers officially have a special teams coordinator in Larry Porter, he also coaches running backs and tight ends and serves as Auburn’s top recruiter, so Rutledge had considerable influence over the special teams operation.
The 2016 Missouri special teams ranked 36th nationally. In 2017, Mizzou struggled, finishing 107th.
All of those showings, however, are better than Nebraska’s 120th-ranked performance in 2019, when the Huskers had six kickers try field goals and gave up two costly kickoff returns for touchdowns against Wisconsin and Iowa. NU’s special teams coordinator in 2018 and 2019, Jovan Dewitt, has taken a similar role at North Carolina.
The Huskers interviewed Rutledge and other candidates for the job in January. Kansas State’s Sean Snyder was believed to be a front-runner until he took a full-time position at USC.
Nebraska’s special teams will undergo an overhaul in 2020 with a new long snapper (Camden Witucki, a freshman from Michigan) and a new full-time punter (William Przystup, a transfer from Michigan State). Two new kickers — walk-ons Chase Contreraz from Iowa Western and Tyler Crawford — join returnees Barret Pickering, Matt Waldoch and Gabe Heins. NU’s kick return game remains unresolved, as well. The Huskers averaged 18.1 yards per kick return last year, second to last in the Big Ten, as seven players returned kickoffs.