SOUTH SIOUX CITY – Scott Frost leaned on Sean Beckton a little more than some of the other members of his staff when he took over as head football coach at Central Florida in 2016.
That’s because Beckton knew the school inside and out, having been star wide receiver at UCF (1987-90) and later a longtime assistant coach.
“That first day coming in and being able to sit down with him and figuring out his expectations, he knew he needed me to help him get things going the right way because I had been there so long,” Beckton said Tuesday during a stop here on the Husker Caravan. “He leaned on me quite a bit to try and help him in his development.”
We’re all familiar with Frost’s story at Central Florida, taking over a team that finished 0-12 the season before and guiding them to a six-win season, then coaching the Knights to an unbeaten campaign last fall.
Frost, of course, has since been hired as head coach at Nebraska. The Wood River, Nebraska, native, who played quarterback on the Huskers’ 1997 national championship team has been entrusted to return the program to its former glory.
Beckton, who coaches tight ends, is one of a number of assistants Frost brought with him from Central Florida.
“He’s just a great guy to be around, very fun,” Beckton said. “I went from a coaching staff that was hard, hard, hard, hammer, hammer, hammer, stress, stress, stress in what you did every day. With Coach Frost you work your tail off, but there is also a time where you have a lot of fun and really enjoy coming to work. I found that to be what I wanted to be around for the rest of my coaching career.”
Beckton and coaching intern Demeitre Brim took questions from fans at the South Sioux City Hy-Vee store. Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud, an All-American linebacker and the all-time leading tackler in Nebraska history, was scheduled to be on the tour but had to remain in Lincoln to visit with a recruit.
Leaving Central Florida, Beckton said, wasn’t an easy decision for Frost.
“It went around and around, he loved what he established at UCF and he loved those kids and his wife loved the community, that’s the biggest thing,” Beckton said. “He didn’t make that decision by himself. He leaned on his parents quite a bit, Coach (Tom) Osborne was a big factor, as well as his coaching staff. Once he got my blessing it made it a lot easier for him to really focus on getting himself to the University of Nebraska.”
Since Frost accepted the offer from his alma mater, optimism has abounded across Husker Nation. Nebraska is coming off a 4-8 season under Mike Riley, who was fired at the conclusion of the 2017 campaign.
Nebraskans are clamoring for the kind of success that brought the Huskers five national titles under Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Nebraska also hasn’t won a conference championship since 1999.
“I tell coach Frost that I always like to go through fall practice and get a gauge on where our team is,” Beckton said. “As a veteran coach I like some of the things I’ve seen up front as far as the offensive line. I can see the defensive line getting better. I always look at the offensive and defensive line to see where we are at the end of training camp.
“Obviously the quarterback position will be a key to our success. That’s an ongoing battle and we have some good candidates there, as you saw in the spring game. Things are looking bright for Nebraska football.”
Beckton and Brim made a stop in Norfolk, Nebraska Tuesday morning and had meet-and-greets scheduled for West Point and Blair later in the day.
“Everywhere you go, it’s like you’re a rock star,” said Beckton, who has spent his entire playing and coaching career in his native state of Florida. “I know things are great for everybody as far as excitement is concerned and as a coaching staff we want to keep that going.”