A veteran college assistant who has been a part of championships in four conferences, Phil Elmassian (pronounced Ell-MAY-shun) brings a wealth of knowledge to the Nebraska staff. A former defensive coordinator, Elmassian has coached every defensive position except the line in his 33 year career. Elmassian is in his fourth season with the Nebraska program and will again focus on guiding the Husker cornerbacks in 2007.
Coached three NFL first-round picks (Lawyer Malloy, Jamar Fletcher and Fabian Washington)
Coached teams that have won Big Ten, Pac-10, MAC and ACC Conference championships and reached 17 bowl games
Last year, Elmassian faced a challenge as returning starter Zack Bowman was lost for the season to injury during fall camp. Bowman’s replacement, Andre Jones, ranked second on the team in tackles with 74 and was second with seven pass breakups. Jones trailed only his counterpart, Cortney Grixby, who recorded 11 breakups for the second year in a row. Entering his third season as a starter, Grixby begins his final chapter in Lincoln ranked sixth on the Nebraska career breakups chart with 25.
Grixby and Jones return in 2007 after helping Nebraska rank 13th nationally last season in pass efficiency defense, the second straight year the Huskers ranked in the top 15. The Blackshirts ended the 2005 campaign ranked 10th nationally and second in the Big 12 Conference in pass efficiency defense while holding nine opponents to one or fewer passing touchdowns.
Bowman suffered another injury during 2007 spring practice, but hopes to make his return in the fall as well. He has been ranked among the top cornerbacks in the country by several publications that track the NFL Draft.
Elmassian came to Nebraska from Purdue where he was the defensive backs coach in 2003. Purdue ranked second in the Big Ten and 19th nationally in pass efficiency defense in his only season on the sideline and ranked 13th nationally in total defense (302.5 ypg).
Under Elmassian’s careful guidance, senior safety Stuart Schwiegert earned All-Big Ten and second-team All-America honors.
A pair of former student-athletes – Lawyer Malloy at Washington and Jamar Fletcher at Wisconsin – earned first-team All-America honors under Elmassian's guidance. Malloy and Fletcher, along with Fabian Washington at Nebraska, were each first-round selections in the NFL Draft after playing under Elmassian.
Elmassian has experience at four Division I schools as a defensive coordinator, including West Virginia (2001), LSU (2000), Boston College (1996) and Virginia Tech (1993 to 1994). He served as defensive backs coach at Wisconsin (1997 to 1999), where he worked under Kevin Cosgrove. In addition to Purdue and Wisconsin, Elmassian was also a secondary coach at Washington (1995), Syracuse (1991 to 1992), Virginia Tech (1985 to 1986), Minnesota (1984) and East Carolina (1983).
Beginning his coaching career at William & Mary (1974 to 1975) and then moving on to Richmond (1976 to 1978), Elmassian coached the quarterbacks and running backs at both schools, before switching to defense at Ferrum College where he was defensive coordinator from 1979 to 1982. He also coached the outside linebackers and kickers at Marshall (2002) and the inside linebackers at Virginia from 1987 to 1990.
Elmassian’s ability to lead players to the highest level has paid dividends, as he helped four programs to conference championship seasons. He also has helped take teams to bowl games 18 times in his career.
His five league titles have come with schools in four conferences including Marshall to the MAC Championship in 2002; Washington to a Pac-10 Championship in 1995; and Virginia to the ACC Championship in 1989. He also helped lead Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl and Big Ten Championship in 1998 and 1999, as his defense led the nation in scoring defense in 1998 and ranked fifth in 1999.
Elmassian played at Ferrum (Va.) College as a quarterback, then transferred to William & Mary (Va.) where he played defensive back under Lou Holtz. He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from William & Mary in 1974. He and his wife, Mary, have three children, Claire, Dylan and Olivia.
The Elmassian File
Date and Place of Birth: Born on March 28, 1951, in Cambridge, Mass.
Family: Wife, Mary; daughters, Claire (19) and Olivia (13), son Dylan (16)
Education: William & Mary, bachelors in physical education, 1974
Playing Experience: 1969-70, Ferrum College; 1971-72, William & Mary
Coaching Experience: 1974-75, William & Mary (assistant coach/quarterbacks/running backs); 1976-78, Richmond (assistant coach/quarterbacks/running backs); 1979-82, Ferrum College (defensive coordinator); 1983, East Carolina (assistant coach/secondary); 1984, Minnesota (assistant coach/secondary); 1985-86, Virginia Tech (assistant coach/secondary); 1987-90, Virginia (assistant coach/linebackers); 1991-92, Syracuse (assistant coach/secondary); 1993-94, Virginia Tech (defensive coordinator); 1995, Washington (assistant coach/secondary); 1996, Boston College (defensive coordinator); 1997-99, Wisconsin (assistant coach/secondary); 2000, LSU (defensive coordinator); 2001, West Virginia (defensive coordinator); 2002, Marshall (assistant coach/outside linebackers/kickers); 2003, Purdue (assistant coach/secondary); 2004, Nebraska (assistant coach/secondary); 2005-present, Nebraska (assistant coach/cornerbacks)
Recruiting Emphasis: Western Texas, Northern Florida