Considered by many to be the nation's top recruiter, John Blake is a former head coach in the Big 12 Conference and brings a unique blend of collegiate and NFL experience to the Husker staff. Blake works directly with the Nebraska defensive linemen, including the tackles and defensive ends.
Blake's proteges on the defensive line played a major part in the resurgence of the Blackshirt defense in 2005. The Huskers finished the campaign ranked in the top 30 nationally in all four major defensive categories, including being the top-ranked unit in the country for sacks and tackles for loss.
Under Blake's guidance, defensive end Adam Carriker returns in 2006 as a preseason All-American after registering a league-high 9.5 sacks as a junior. Carriker helped the Huskers post the second-highest number of sacks (50) and tackles for loss (140) in school history, including 33.5 by Blake's defensive linemen. Carriker was the team's defensive MVP and was named to the All-Big 12 first team while also being selected for the Lombardi Award watch list in 2005.
Carriker was not the only Blake pupil to earn major accolades, as defensive end Barry Turner earned first-team freshman All-America honors after posting an NU freshman record six sacks last year. Overall, the Huskers return 34.5 of the team's 50 sacks from 2005, including 22 by Blake's defensive linemen and ends.
In the spring, a pair of Blake's pupils joined the professional ranks as Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams were selected in the 2006 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and New York Jets, respectively. The selection of Smith and Adams gives the Huskers a total of 11 defensive linemen selected in the past nine NFL drafts.
In 2004, Blake's defensive line helped Nebraska rank second in the league and 11th nationally in rushing defense. The Huskers allowed just 104.0 rushing yards per game, including a league-low 2.9 yards per attempt.
Since joining the Husker staff, Blake has also played a prominent role in Nebraska landing some of the best recruiting classes in the country over the past three seasons, including reeling in a top-five ranked recruiting class according to several recruiting services in 2005. His role in luring the nation's top prep athletes to Nebraska led to Blake's inclusion as a finalist for National Recruiter of the Year according to Rivlas.com.
Blake came to Nebraska from Mississippi State where he served as the defensive line coach for one year. He was the director of a professional developmental camp called "A Chance To Advance Football Camp" for four years before joining MSU. Among his clients were Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, Atlanta Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking, New Orleans Saints defensive end Darren Howard and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
A former All-Big Eight nose guard at Oklahoma, Blake played for Coach Barry Switzer from 1979 to 1982. He coached at OU under Switzer and Gary Gibbs and also paired with Switzer in the NFL at Dallas, serving as the Cowboys’ defensive line coach from 1993 to 1995.
At OU, Blake began as a student assistant working with the defensive line in 1985 and earned a national championship ring that season. The Sooners lost just two games during his first tenure on the staff as a student assistant.
Blake’s first full-time assistant position was at Tulsa in 1987 and 1988, where he coached the tight ends and wide receivers. He returned to his alma mater in 1989 as the Sooners’ defensive line coach, then served as Gibbs’ linebackers coach from 1990 to 1992.
After being lured by Jimmy Johnson to Dallas, five players made the Pro Bowl during Blake's three seasons with the Cowboys. Blake's defensive line was considered part of one of the best defenses in the NFL during his tenure. Dallas won two Super Bowls (1993 and 1995) during Blake’s term with the Cowboys, the first under Johnson and the second under Switzer. Dallas' 1994 defensive front led the league in rush defense and the entire unit was the NFL’s top-ranked defense and second in the NFL in sacks.
Blake returned to his alma mater to serve as head coach of the Sooners from 1996 to 1998. In those three years, OU posted 3-8, 4-8 and 5-6 records, respectively, and Blake was responsible for recruiting the majority of the starters on Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team.
Blake earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations and recreation from Oklahoma in 1986. He and his wife Freda (Tulsa, Okla.) have one son, Jourdan.
The Blake File
Date and Place of Birth: Born on March 6, 1961, in Rockford, Ill.
Family: Wife, Freda; son Jourdan (10)
Education: University of Oklahoma, bachelors in public relations and recreation, 1986
Playing Experience: 1979-82, Oklahoma
Coaching Experience: 1985, Oklahoma (student assistant/defensive line); 1986, Oklahoma (graduate assistant); 1987-88, Tulsa (assistant coach/tight ends/wide receivers); 1989, Oklahoma (assistant coach/defensive line); 1990-92, Oklahoma (assistant coach/linebackers); 1993-95, Dallas Cowboys (assistant coach/defensive line); 1996-1998, Oklahoma (head coach); 2003, Mississippi State (assistant coach/defensive line); 2004-present, Nebraska (assistant coach/defensive line)
Recruiting Emphasis: California (Southern), Florida (Miami), New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas (Southern, Houston, Galveston)