|Position:||Assistant Coach - Running Backs|
Ryan Held is in his second season at his alma mater in 2019, where he coaches the Husker running backs. In his fourth season overall on Scott Frost's staff, Held played with Frost for two seasons at Nebraska in 1995 and 1996 and coached with Frost for two seasons at Central Florida. A coaching veteran with 12 years of head coaching experience, Held has won a total of four national championships in his career, including two as a player and two as a coach.
Held's running backs produced impressive results in his first season 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 after averaging just 107.5 yards per game in 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.
At 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.
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. Held’s 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.
Held began his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1998 and 1999, with the Volunteers winning the 1998 national championship.
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.
Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Held earned his bachelor’s degree in community health from Nebraska in 1998 and his master’s degree in sport management from Tennessee in 2001. Held is married to his wife Katie. Ryan has one daughter, Rhylan.
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