Jeff Choate’s hiring as head coach at the University of Nevada left a void at the linebacker coaching position on the 40 Acres. Choate, a former linebacker at Montana Western, had a lengthy tenure of coaching the position, dating back to 2009 at Boise State. At Texas, he coached Longhorn linebackers Demarvion Overshown and Jaylan Ford among others, to impressive collegiate careers. His departure left head coach Steve Sarkisian in need of a talented and experienced coach to pick up where Choate left off.
Sarkisian did not need to look far for his replacement, plucking former colleague and University of Arizona Defensive Coordinator Johnny Nansen for the job.
Nansen and Sarkisian know each other well, as Nansen spent seven years under Sark during his head coaching stints at Washington and USC. He is a former linebacker at Washington State and has coached on the defensive side of the ball for the last eight seasons.
In a statement released on Saturday, Sarkisian expressed his excitement for Nansen joining the Longhorn coaching staff.
“Johnny is a guy I’ve known for a long time, and I have so much respect for,” said Sarkisian. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience, is highly regarded in our business, and is a tremendous recruiter. He’s a high-energy coach who does a great job developing his players and getting the best out of them. Johnny’s been focused on the defensive side of the ball the past eight years, and what he did with Arizona’s defense that helped lead a dramatic turnaround in that program this year was sensational. He brings an aggressive, physical and disciplined style of football, his players play fast, relentless and tough, and he’s had success everywhere he’s been. And on top of that, he’s a great man who builds awesome relationships with his players and is passionate about the game. He’ll pour everything into our team, our players and Texas Football. Longhorn nation is going to love Johnny, and we’re fired up to have him joining our staff.”
Nansen, who was at Arizona for one season, helped lead the Wildcats to a 10-3 record which included a win over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. He discussed his eagerness is to work under Sarkisian again – this time at Texas.
“When Coach Sark called it was an easy decision. It’s a dream come true to work at a place like Texas — with all its rich history and tradition — and reuniting with Sark is a big part of it, too,” said Nansen. “He gave me a chance at Washington and USC, and I’ve been fortunate to grow as a coach through him and look forward to doing that again. You just look at his record, he knows how to build a program, and he does it the right way. Sark knows how to develop coaches, and he’s as good as there is at developing players, which is something that is really important to me, too. A lot of my philosophy is based on what Sark believes in, so being able to reunite with him, his vision, passion and drive to succeed every single day was a key factor in coming to Texas.”