The Nebraska baseball coaching search is complete, and all signs point to former Husker Will Bolt being hired to lead the program.
Two sources told the Lincoln Journal Star that Bolt will indeed be the 24th head baseball coach in NU history. Bolt will be formally introduced Thursday in a news conference at Memorial Stadium.
Bolt will start on a five-year contract worth $300,000 a season.
That means Nebraska will tap into its past once again for the coach to lead one of its flagship programs.
“The opportunity to come back home to Nebraska and lead the Husker baseball program is such a blessing and honor for my family and me,” Bolt said in a news release. “It is such an exciting time in Husker athletics with the foundation laid by Bill Moos within the athletic department, and the success Coach Erstad and staff have had on the field.
“My family and I have the fondest affection for the Huskers and the city of Lincoln, and truly cannot wait to become part of the Husker family again!”
A hard-charging infielder, Bolt starred for Dave Van Horn’s teams from 1999-2002 as the program rose from anonymity to national power.
Bolt replaces Darin Erstad, who resigned June 3 after eight years at the helm.
A Conroe, Texas, native, Bolt had been an assistant at Texas A&M for the last five seasons under Rob Childress, himself a Nebraska assistant coach under Van Horn.
“I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity for Will, his wife Lauren and his entire family as he goes back to his alma mater for his dream job. I will be forever thankful to Will and his family for all they’ve done for Texas A&M Baseball the last five seasons, as well as in 2006 and ’07,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said in a statement. “His leadership helped us accomplish many great things, on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”
According to at least one national college baseball expert, Bolt checks the boxes Nebraska needed to fill.
“I think Will’s a great fit for Nebraska,” veteran college baseball analyst and Nebraska native Kyle Peterson told the Journal Star earlier this month when asked about Bolt’s potential to lead the program. “I’ve been around him plenty the last few years. I think he’s ready. He obviously was involved in the program when it was really going well. Plus, if you coach and recruit in the SEC, and you are in that meat grinder for 10 straight weeks, you learn plenty.”
The 39-year-old Bolt joins Scott Frost (football) and Fred Hoiberg (basketball) in leading a major men’s program at Nebraska.
“Will Bolt has been a winner at every stop he has made as a coach and player, and I am proud to welcome him back to Lincoln as our next head baseball coach,” Moos said in the release. “Will was a part of the most successful teams in the history of our baseball program, and he knows what it takes to win here.
“Will has proven to be an outstanding recruiter wherever he has coached. He understands the appeal of Nebraska and everything our baseball program and University has to offer to student-athletes.”
Frost, of course, grew up in the state and led NU to a national title in 1997. Hoiberg was born in Lincoln and has several deep connections to the state.
While Bolt wasn’t born in the state, his connections to NU and his place in the baseball program’s history are prominent.
A member of Van Horn’s first recruiting class in Lincoln, Bolt was the associate head coach at Nebraska from 2012-14 under Erstad. He was a graduate manager for the Huskers in 2004 and a volunteer assistant for the Huskers the next season.
As a player in Lincoln, Bolt was a four-year starter and team captain on Nebraska’s 2001 and 2002 College World Series teams. He finished his career holding six school records: games played (251), games started (242), at-bats (922), hits (281), doubles (56) and assists (639).
“I think there’s a value — and it doesn’t have to be an absolute — but I think there’s a value to those who have a history with the Nebraska program and have a history with the state and understand the challenges that come along with the job from a weather standpoint and a recruiting standpoint,” Peterson said. “I think there’s also advantages for those who were there when it was really humming, because they can bring some of that back.”
Bolt’s only other head coaching experience is at Texarkana College, where he went 140-82 from 2008-11 and won a pair of junior college Region XIV championships, and for the Parkville Sluggers, a summer collegiate team that played in the M.I.N.K. League.
Bolt was also a volunteer assistant at Texas A&M in 2006 and 2007.
“He is going to field a team that is going to be relentless, and he will build something special at the University of Nebraska,” Childress said. “I look forward to seeing the great things he accomplishes, adding to his legacy in Lincoln.”