Football Coaching Staff
Ryan Held
Assistant Coach - Running Backs
Coach Info:
Position: Assistant Coach - Running Backs
Alma Mater: Nebraska
Graduating Year: 1998


  • 2018 & 2019 Top 25 Recruiter of the Year

Ryan Held is in his second season at his alma mater in 2019, where he coaches the Husker running backs. Held was teammates with Scott Frost for two seasons at Nebraska, and Held is serving on Frost's staff for the fourth straight year.

 A coaching veteran with 12 years of head coaching experience, Held has won four national championships in his career, including two as a player and two as a coach. In fact, Held has been a part of three national championship teams in the seven seasons he has spent playing and coaching at Nebraska. Held has also benefited from coaching under three national coaches of the year: Frost, Phillip Fulmer and Tom Osborne.

As a position coach, Held has developed an all-conference running back each of the past two seasons and both years, his starting running back ranked in the top 15 nationally in rushing yards per carry. In his first year at Nebraska in 2018, Devine Ozigbo averaged 7.0 yards per carry and rushed for 1,082 yards after averaging 4.2 yards per carry and rushing for 1,114 yards in his first three seasons combined.

In addition to his role as running backs coach, Held has been recognized as an outstanding recruiter, as he was named one of the nation's top 25 recruiters by in both 2018 and 2019. 

Nebraska (1997; 2018)

Held's running backs produced impressive results in 2018. The group helped Nebraska rush for more than 2,500 yards, as NU boasted the third-most improved rushing attack in the country, averaging 209.0 rushing yards per game, an improvement of more than 100 yards from 2017. 

Leading the way was All-Big Ten back Devine Ozigbo, who ran for 1,082 yards as a senior in 2018, becoming Nebraska's first 1,000-yard rusher since Doak Walker finalist Ameer Abdullah in 2014. Ozigbo, who was one of three Husker running backs to have a 100-yard rushing performance in 2018, had never even rushed for 500 yards in a season before Held's arrival. Ozigbo ranked 11th nationally with an average of 7.0 yards per carry in 2018, an impressive total considering he averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his first three seasons. Ozigbo also led Nebraska with 12 rushing touchdowns and 90.2 rushing yards per game.

In addition to Ozigbo's success, true freshman Maurice Washington made an immediate impact under Held's leadership. Washington, who was third on the team in rushing yards (455) and fourth in receiving yards (221), had both a 100-yard rushing and 100-yard receiving game as a true freshman, becoming just the fourth running back in Husker history to have a 100-yard receiving game. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and 9.2 yards per reception. Washington's 24 receptions were the second-highest total ever by any Nebraska true freshman, regardless of position.

Held also began his coaching career at Nebraska as an undergraduate assistant coach in 1997. After being a part of two Husker national championship teams as a player, Held helped Nebraska to the 1997 national title with Scott Frost as the Huskers' starting quarterback.

Before Nebraska

UCF: Held coached the running backs for a program that was the nation’s most improved team in 2016 and posted the first perfect season in UCF and American Athletic Conference history in 2017, when the Knights were the only unbeaten team in the country. With help from Held’s running backs, the Knights’ offense showed dramatic improvement, increasing their scoring production by nearly 35 points per game from 2015 to 2017 and their total offense output by more than 260 yards per game.

Held’s running backs helped UCF rush for more than 2,500 yards during its perfect season and run to the American Athletic Conference title in 2017. Adrian Killins Jr. averaged 6.5 yards per carry en route to earning all-conference accolades as a sophomore. Killins added 10 rushing touchdowns, including a 96-yard score in the regular-season matchup with Memphis, the longest rush and longest play from scrimmage in both UCF and AAC history. As a unit, Held’s running backs combined for 24 rushing touchdowns in 2017 and turned the ball over only three times in 13 games. As a team, UCF ranked ninth nationally with 39 rushing touchdowns.

In Held’s first season at UCF in 2016, the Knights rushed for nearly 2,000 yards, including more than 800 yards from freshmen. Killins averaged 6.5 yards per carry, while senior Dontravious Wilson scored eight rushing touchdowns after scoring only three times in his first three seasons combined.

AS A HEAD COACH: Before joining Frost at UCF, Held made his name in the coaching community as a junior college, Division II and NAIA head coach. He spent four seasons as a junior college head coach, including two years each at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (2014-15) and Highland (Kan.) Community College (2012-13). Held coached 22 all-conference selections in his final season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and led Highland to the playoffs in 2013 for the first time in the modern era. In his four years as a junior college head coach, Held sent more than 50 players to Division I schools. His first stint in the junior college ranks was as the offensive coordinator for Butler (Kan.) Community College in 2011, when the Grizzlies went 11-1 and ranked second nationally in total offense.

Previously, Held spent seven seasons as a Division II head coach. He led the Southwestern Oklahoma State program for four seasons from 2005 to 2008, guiding the team to a conference title in 2007, one year after he was named the division coach of the year. Held coached Oklahoma Panhandle State from 2002 to 2004, and his first full-time coaching job was as head coach at Peru State in 2001, an NAIA school in Peru, Neb. Upon his hiring by Peru State, Held was the youngest head football coach in the country (age 26), and he led the Bobcats to a second-place league finish in his only season.

TENNESSEE: Held was a defensive graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1998 and 1999, helping the Volunteers win the 1998 national championship.

Playing Career (Nebraska)

Held was a two-time national champion himself as a Husker from 1993 to 1996. Nebraska posted a 47-3 record during Held’s career with three conference titles. At Nebraska, Held was a teammate of Frost’s during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Following his playing career, Held was an undergraduate assistant coach for the Huskers in 1997 working with the running backs. That season, Frost led Nebraska to a 13-0 record and a national title as NU’s starting quarterback.


Held earned a bachelor's degree in community health from Nebraska in 1998 and a bachelor's degree in sport management from Tennessee in 2001. He and his wife, Katie, have one son, Jacob Ryan. Held also has a daughter, Rhylan.

Coaching Career

2018-present: Nebraska, Assistant Coach (Running Backs)

2016-17: UCF, Assistant Coach (Running Backs)
2014-15: Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Head Coach
2012-13: Highland CC, Head Coach
2011: Butler CC, Offensive Coordinator
2005-08: Southwestern Oklahoma State, Head Coach
2002-04: Oklahoma Panhandle State, Head Coach
2001: Peru State, Head Coach
1998-99: Tennessee, Defensive Graduate Assistant
1997: Nebraska, Undergraduate Assistant Coach