Football Coaching Staff
John Parrella
Defensive Line Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Defensive Line Coach
Hometown: Grand Island, Neb.
Alma Mater: Nebraska

John Parrella is in his second season at his alma mater, after returning to join Mike Riley's Nebraska staff as the defensive line coach in 2016. Parrella has made a fast rise in the coaching profession and brings a championship history as a player to the Husker staff.

In his first season on the Nebraska staff, Parrella's impact was immediately felt. Despite losing a pair of defensive tackles to the National Football League, Parrella's defensive front combined for 185 tackles, 17.0 sacks and 35 tackles for loss. The play of the line helped Nebraska rank in the top 35 nationally in total defense and scoring defense.

Senior end Ross Dzuris led Nebraska with 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, while recording 49 tackles, eclipsing his career totals entering the year in all three categories. Fellow senior Kevin Maurice was the anchor of the line from his tackle spot. He totaled 39 tackles, four sacks and seven tackles for loss. Both Dzuris and Maurice earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors. 

A native of Grand Island, Neb., Parrella came to Nebraska after spending the past two seasons as the defensive line coach at Northern Michigan University.

Parrella previously served as an assistant coach at Chabot Junior College in Hayward, Calif., in 2013. Chabot won the Golden Gate Conference and won the Top of the State Bowl to capture the Central Division Championship. One of Parrella’s defensive linemen earned MVP honors in the game after recording 3.5 sacks.

Parrella first made his mark in coaching at Valley Christian High School in San Jose. Parrella started the varsity program at the school and guided the Vikings to four straight North Coast Section Division IV playoff appearances. In his first season, he led Valley Christian to the semifinals of the NCS playoffs.

The success in coaching followed Parrella’s championship playing career at both the collegiate and professional level. Parrella was an All-Big Eight selection as a defensive tackle at Nebraska, and was a three-year letterwinner for Coach Tom Osborne and defensive line coach Charlie McBride.

Parrella served as a team captain during his senior season in 1992, and was a member of three Big Eight title teams during his career. In his senior season, Parrella was second on the team with 77 tackles, including 11.5 sacks for loss and five sacks, earning first-team all-conference honors. Parrella was also the 1992 Nebraska Lifter of the Year and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Following his career at Nebraska, Parrella had an outstanding NFL career. A second-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1993, Parrella played 12 seasons in the NFL.

He was a part of three Super Bowl teams, one each with the Bills, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. During Parrella’s final three seasons with the Chargers from 1999 to 2001, Nebraska Coach Mike Riley served as San Diego’s head coach. Parrella finished his career with 26.5 sacks and more than 400 total tackles.

Parrella Profile              
Coaching Experience

2016-17: Nebraska, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2014-15: Northern Michigan, Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2013: Chabot Junior College, Assistant Coach
2008-12: Valley Christian High School, Head Coach

Playing Experience
1988-92: University of Nebraska (Defensive Tackle)
1993: Buffalo Bills
1994-2001: San Diego Chargers
2002-04: Oakland Raiders

Education: Bachelor’s in Child, Youth and Family Sciences, Nebraska  
Family: Wife, Leigh; Sons, Zach, Cal, Alex, Jake; Daughter, Grace

Parella Career Highlights

  • Coached a pair of all-conference defensive linemen in first season at Nebraska
  • Two seasons at defensive line coach at Northern Michigan
  • Helped Chabot Junior College to a conference championship in 2013
  • Started varsity program at Valley Christian High School in San Jose and led school to four straight playoff appearances
  • Played 12 seasons in the National Football League
  • Played in 172 games in NFL career with 111 starts
  • Recorded 26.5 career sacks, including 24.5 in eight seasons with the San Diego Chargers
  • Played in Super Bowl XXVIII with Bills, Super Bowl XXIX with Chargers and Super Bowl XXXVII with the Raiders
  • First-team All-Big Eight selection and team captain at Nebraska in 1992 and Honorable-Mention All-Big Eight in 1991.