Cosgrove will oversee one of the deepest linebacking corps in the nation for the second consecutive season in 2007. Bo Ruud returns after a stellar junior campaign that saw him earn first-team All-Big 12 accolades while Corey McKeon, a second-team all-league pick in 2005, is back for another season manning the middle of the defense. Also returning are seniors Steve Octavien, one of the team’s best athletes, and Lance Brandenburgh, a versatile veteran. Cosgrove has had a first- or second-team All-Big 12 player each of his first three years at Nebraska.
The Blackshirt defense boasted an impressive rise in the national rankings each of the past two years under Cosgrove. The Huskers have been in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense (24th in 2006, 25th in 2005) and pass efficiency defense (13th in 2006, 10th in 2005) each of the last two years, while posting top-40 national rankings each season in rushing defense. NU also ranked 11th nationally in rush defense in Cosgrove’s first season in 2004.
Under Cosgrove’s tutelage, Nebraska led the nation in sacks (50 total, 4.17 per game) and tackles for loss (10.33 per game) in 2005. The 50 sacks were the second-most ever by a Blackshirt defense, including a Big 12 Conference-leading 9.5 sacks by defensive end Adam Carriker while Barry Turner added an NU freshman-record six sacks before being named a freshman All-American.
Cosgrove has helped several other Blackshirts reach the pinnacle of the sport. Daniel Bullocks joined his twin brother, Josh, when he was selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. Josh Bullocks (2nd round, New Orleans) was one of three Blackshirts drafted following the 2004 season, along with cornerback Fabian Washington (1st, Oakland) and linebacker Barrett Ruud (2nd, Tampa Bay), who finished his career under Cosgrove as the all-time leading tackler in Nebraska history.
Carriker was again dominant in 2006 when he was named the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year before being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the first round (12th pick) of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Huskers’ highest selection since Grant Wistrom went sixth in the 1998 Draft. Carriker was one of three Blackshirts selected this year along with linebacker Stewart Bradley (third round by the Philadelphia Eagles) and defensive end Jay Moore (fourth round by San Francisco).
Before joining the Huskers, Cosgrove served under Barry Alvarez as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin for nine years. Cosgrove coached the Badger linebackers for 14 years overall (1990-2003) and spent 22 years coaching in the Big Ten.
A member of Alvarez’s original staff, Cosgrove coached at Wisconsin with several current Husker staff members, including Coach Bill Callahan, cornerbacks coach Phil Elmassian (1997-99) and safeties coach Bill Busch (1994). Callahan and Cosgrove have coached together for 14 years.
Cosgrove helped Wisconsin to three Big Ten titles and nine bowl appearances (7-2 record), including three Rose Bowl wins. Two of Cosgrove’s linebackers – Pete Monty in 1996, Nick Greisen in 2000 and 2001 – led the conference in tackles at Wisconsin, with Monty setting the Badgers’ career tackle record. Barrett Ruud led the Big 12 in tackles in 2004 under Cosgrove and ended his career as the Huskers’ all-time tackles leader.
Wisconsin won the Big Ten title in 1993 and defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl 21-16. The Badgers then won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1998 and 1999, before defeating UCLA, 38-31, and Stanford, 17-9, in the Rose Bowl, respectively.
Cosgrove has recruited many outstanding athletes during his career, and was named to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming’s “other big-time recruiting names,” just outside of the top-10 list. Among the top recruits he brought to UW were offensive tackle Aaron Gibson, a finalist for both the 1998 Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy; defensive back Jamar Fletcher, who won the 2000 Jim Thorpe Award; and defensive tackle Wendell Bryant, a two-time Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Gibson, Fletcher and Bryant were all first-round NFL draft picks.
Cosgrove also has worked at Illinois, Southeast Missouri State and Colorado State. He was a graduate assistant at Illinois alongside Callahan from 1980 to 1982, then was elevated to linebackers coach for the Illini from 1983 to 1987. Cosgrove recruited Jeff George, the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick in 1990, to Illinois along with two-time All-American Moe Gardner.
Cosgrove graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago and first met Callahan during their prep careers. He was a teammate of Callahan’s at Illinois Benedictine College in 1974, playing defensive back, but earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1980.
Cosgrove and his wife, Shelly, have two sons, Clint and Connor, and a daughter, Shannon. Clint worked as a video intern in the Nebraska football office last year and will be a graduate assistant coach at Minnesota in 2007.
The Cosgrove File
Date and Place of Birth: Born on Dec. 27, 1955, in Chicago, Ill.
Family: Wife, Shelly; sons, Clint (24) and Connor (16); daughter Shannon (21)
Education: Wisconsin-Oshkosh, bachelors in physical education, 1980
Playing Experience: 1974, Illinois Benedictine College; 1976-78, Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Coaching Experience: 1980-82, Illinois (graduate assistant); 1983-87 Illinois (assistant coach/linebackers); 1988, Southeast Missouri State (defensive coordinator/linebackers); 1989, Colorado State (assistant coach/linebackers); 1990-94, Wisconsin, (assistant coach/linebackers); 1995-03, Wisconsin (defensive coordinator/linebackers); 2004, Nebraska (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers); 2005-present, Nebraska (defensive coordinator/linebackers)
Recruiting Emphasis: Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Philadelphia, Wisconsin