Head Coach Mike Riley has filled the opening on the Nebraska football coaching staff by hiring Donté Williams as an assistant coach.
Williams joins the Nebraska staff after spending the 2016 regular season on the defensive staff at the University of Arizona. The 34-year-old Williams is generally regarded as one of the nation’s top young recruiters and defensive coaches.
“We are confident that Donté Williams will bring great energy and expertise to our defensive coaching staff,” Riley said. “He has the personality and demeanor that allows him to connect and relate to his players. He will also be a dynamic addition to our staff in terms of recruiting prospective student-athletes to the University of Nebraska.”
Williams is expected to coach the Huskers’ cornerbacks and sub-package specialists (nickels and dimes) and have involvement in pass defense coordination. Brian Stewart will shift his focus to the Nebraska safeties, and defensive coordinator Mark Banker will return solely to the coordinator role after also tutoring the safety position in 2016. Riley said he will likely divide special teams duties among multiple staff members in 2017.
Williams will join the Huskers immediately, allowing him to work with the Blackshirt defense as the team prepares for the Music City Bowl matchup with Tennessee.
“I am truly blessed that Coach Riley thought highly enough of me to join his staff here at the University of Nebraska,” Williams said. “Everything I have seen in Lincoln has completely raised my expectations of what I know we can accomplish here! I look forward to continuing the success of the Blackshirt defense under Coach Riley and the whole Big Red Family!”
In his one season at Arizona, Williams coached the cornerbacks and was credited for energizing the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts. The recruiting efforts of Williams helped build a class that is currently ranked in the top 15 in the nation. While at Arizona, Williams’ main areas of recruiting responsibility included Los Angeles and Houston.
Williams joined the Arizona staff in 2016 after three seasons at San Jose State. In his final two seasons with the Spartans, Williams was the recruiting coordinator in addition to his duties as the secondary coach. San Jose State excelled in pass defense under Williams, allowing an FBS leading 117.8 yards per game in 2014, and finishing No. 2 in pass defense in 2015 at 153.6 yards per game.
The Spartans’ defense made immediate improvement with Williams, who took over the entire secondary after coaching the cornerbacks in 2013. In his first season overseeing the entire secondary in 2014, San Jose State’s total defense improved 56 spots in the FBS rankings, while passing yards allowed improved 74 spots and passing touchdowns allowed jumped 103 spots.
In addition to his on-field work, Williams earned recognition for bolstering San Jose State’s recruiting efforts. In February 2015, Sports Illustrated named Williams a Top 10 recruiter in college football. He was also tabbed the top recruiter in the Mountain West Conference by 247sports.com in 2014.
Williams joined the Spartans after two seasons as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington in 2011 and 2012, where he worked with cornerbacks and linebackers. Williams was at the University of Nevada as an assistant linebacker coach in 2010.
Williams began his coaching career in 2007 as an assistant coach at Los Angeles Harbor College, and worked one season each at El Camino College (2008) and Mt. San Antonio College (2009). In 2012, Williams completed a summer coaching internship with the Seattle Seahawks. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, he was a guest coach in the New Era All-Star Game in Japan.
A 2006 Idaho State University graduate, Williams played college football at Syracuse in 2003 and Idaho State in 2004 and 2005. Williams played two seasons in Arena Football League 2 (AF2) for the Rio Grande Valley Dorados (2007) and Arkansas Twisters (2008). He was a first-team all-league player and a defensive team captain in each of his two seasons.
Williams’ Coaching Resume
2016, University of Arizona, Cornerbacks
2014-15, San Jose State University, Secondary Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
2013, San Jose State University, Cornerbacks
2011-12, University of Washington, Graduate Assistant/Cornerbacks and Linebackers
2010, University of Nevada, Quality Control Assistant/Linebackers
2009, Mount San Antonio College, Secondary
2008, El Camino College, Secondary
Donté Williams File
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
College: Idaho State, 2006
Playing Career: Syracuse, 2003; Idaho State, 2004-05