Ryan Nielsen – Defensive Line
Ryan Nielsen will tutor the New Orleans Saints defensive line in his first campaign as an NFL assistant after a 14-year tenure in the college coaching ranks.
From 2013-2016, he was the defensive line/recruiting coordinator/run game coordinator at North Carolina State. The 2016 season saw the Wolfpack rank eighth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rush defense and lead the ACC, allowing just 104.7 rushing yards per game — the school's best mark since 2004. Defensive end Bradley Chubb recorded 22 tackles for loss, ranked fourth in the country, while his 11 sacks were fourth in the ACC and 19th in the nation. He was named second-team All-ACC. A Broyles Award candidate in 2015, given annually to college football's top assistant coach, Nielsen earned this recognition tutoring a Wolfpack defensive line that was part of a defense that ranked 29th in the FBS in total defense. Defensive end Mike Rose was a second-team All-ACC selection after he finished second in the ACC in sacks and ninth in tackles for loss. In 2014, defensive end Art Norman led the team with 6.5 sacks.
Nielson coached at Northern Illinois from 2011-12, including a 2012 season where he was the co-defensive coordinator/defensive line/recruiting coordinator and helped the Huskies to the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Two defensive lineman were first-team All-MAC selections in 2012, Sean Progar and Alan Baxter, while Nabal Jefferson was a National Scholar-Athlete and finalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy. In 2011, Nielsen coached Progar and Ron Newcomb to All-MAC honors.
Serving as the defensive line/special teams coach at Tennessee-Martin in 2010, the Skyhawks led the Ohio Valley Conference in total defense. From 2008-09, Nielsen was the defensive coordinator and coached the line and linebackers at Central Connecticut State. In 2009, CCSU won the Northeastern Conference title. Nielsen served as the defensive line coach at Mississippi from 2005-07 following one season at Idaho, and coached two freshman All-Americans. Rebels defensive linemen led the Southeastern Conference in sacks twice during his three-year stint. Nielsen got his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, the University of Southern California in 2002.
Nielsen, a Simi Valley, Calif. native who started 30 games at defensive tackle at USC from 1998-2001, finished his college career with 107 career tackles and was voted the team's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1999. He graduated with a degree in public policy in 2002 and went to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played for the Arena Football League's Los Angeles Avengers in 2004.
PLAYING CAREER:Southern California, 1997-01; Los Angeles Avengers (Arena Football League), 2004.
COACHING CAREER:Southern California, 2002, Idaho, 2004; Mississippi, 2005-07; Central Connecticut State, 2008-09; Tennessee-Martin, 2006-08; Northern Illinois, 2011-12; North Carolina State, 2013-16; New Orleans Saints, 2017-.