LINCOLN, Neb. — Lucky for Scott Booker, he’s been around.
Nebraska’s new safeties coach was hired in March as a special teams consultant. For a few months, he was able to watch the offense. Watch the defense. Move his family from South Bend, Ind., to Lincoln.
So when Nebraska approached Booker this summer to take over as safeties coach for the late Bob Elliott, Booker was ready.
“I wasn’t just called off the road,” Booker said. “I was already in the building, I already knew everyone’s name, my family was already here, I was already going to be part of the Nebraska program. It’s just in a different position now.”
Booker has experience as a safeties coach, but he hasn’t coached the position since 2009. Booker worked at Kent State from 2003-08 as a graduate assistant and as a defensive backs coach. He jumped to Western Kentucky for one season as the secondary coach, then from 2010-16 he was at Notre Dame, where he spent time with Elliott and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. At Notre Dame, he was the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
The experience at Notre Dame — and with Diaco — has Booker feeling comfortable in his role at Nebraska, where every assistant coach is subject to scrutiny at some point.
“I’ve been in pressure-packed situations before, national championship games even,” Booker said. “Being at a place like Notre Dame, sure that helps, but again my experience has helped shape me because my defensive back days came at other schools, not at Notre Dame.”
Booker has some talent to work with at Nebraska. Senior Joshua Kalu has moved from corner to safety. Booker also is working with Kieron Williams and Antonio Reed to see how they fit into the mix.
“It’s great,” Booker said. “It’s good to get back on the defensive side of the ball, good to be back with Coach Diaco. Coach Donte Williams does a tremendous job as a whole with the defensive backs, so I love the relationship I have with them and it’s been good for the first three practices.”
Williams knew of Booker before the two ended up in Lincoln. The defensive backs coach recognized Booker from the recruiting trail.
“Everyone who is a pretty darn good recruiter, you cross paths with at some point,” Williams said. “He knows football and he loves his job. So never is he tired. He gives me a shot of energy.”
Booker was hired to be a special teams consultant and it sounds like he’ll continue to play a role in that department. Head coach Mike Riley has said in the past that every assistant coach will have a hand in special teams. But Booker said he will help shape special teams more than anyone.
His roles seem to be mixed, and the last two months have been a whirlwind of news and change for Booker. But for now, here in August and fall camp, he’s happy just to be here.
“[I’m] humbled and grateful, there’s no question about it,” Booker said. “I just want to be part of the nine-man staff and the overall organization of Nebraska football and be the best I can.”