Beau Walker admits that he misses the mountains. But there was no way he was going to pass up this opportunity.
Walker, who spent seven seasons as a student assistant and graduate assistant for the Oregon State football program, has followed head coach Mike Riley to serve as a graduate assistant at Nebraska.
A former star quarterback at Bend High School, Walker, 25, has been in Lincoln, Nebraska, for about a month and a half now.
“It is (flat), but it’s not bad,” Walker says of Nebraska. “It’s actually really nice. Definitely you miss your family and stuff, but at the same time, it’s my opportunity to spread the wings a little bit, and I’m excited to do so.”
Last season, Walker — the son of longtime Bend High coach Craig Walker, who is now retired — was a graduate assistant coach for the Beaver offensive line, and he says he will hold that same job with the Cornhuskers.
He moved to Lincoln on Jan. 5, about a month after Riley’s stunning announcement that he would be leaving Oregon State to accept the head coaching job at Nebraska after a 12-season second tenure (and a total of 14 seasons) in Corvallis.
Walker says he was as surprised as anybody when Riley was named head coach of the Cornhuskers after Oregon State finished 5-7 last season.
“It was definitely a shock, but it’s a good opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it,” Walker says. “There was a little bit of uncertainty, I guess, for a couple of days.”
Walker did not know if he would be a part of Riley’s staff at Nebraska until he got a phone call from Nebraska’s director of football operations a few days after Riley’s announcement.
“It was an easy decision,” Walker says.
Walker has been busy helping Nebraska coaches with recruiting and with offensive preparation for spring practice. He says his duties during the season will include editing game and practice film, signaling play calls from the sidelines, and scouting opposing defenses.
He will continue to work under longtime OSU offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, who is now with Nebraska in the same role.
“A lot of it is going to be kind of similar,” Walker says. “But it’s obviously a new conference (the Big Ten) and a new environment.”
Riley replaced Bo Pelini, who was fired in November after seven seasons with the Cornhuskers, who finished 9-4 last season.
Walker is adjusting to the move to the Big Ten Conference and a bigger city (Lincoln’s population is nearly 270,000; Corvallis’ is about 55,000). Nebraska football is known for having one of the most passionate and loyal fan bases in the country.
Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium holds 87,000, nearly twice the capacity of Oregon State’s Reser Stadium (45,000). Nebraska boasts an ongoing NCAA record of 340 consecutive sellouts, dating back to 1962.
“The facilities are really nice here,” Walker says. “They’re really nice at Oregon State, too, but these ones are pretty big. The stadium’s obviously big, you can tell that just by the amount of seats that are inside of it.”
Walker, who is working toward a master’s in education, says his long-term goal is to become a college football head coach. His move to Nebraska, he believes, is just another step in that process.
“Obviously, I’ve got a long road to do that, but I’m just trying to get my foot in the door,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and looking forward to get working with this group. I’m just very thankful, and blessed.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318, email@example.com