Nugent, who turns 30 next week, said he didn’t think he would have a coaching gig in the NFL at such an early stage of his career.
“I was still pretty young when I first got into the college game at the University of Iowa,” Nugent said. “I was 22 at that point, which is fairly young to get started there.
“Still in a little awe of it I guess right now. Still in that honeymoon stage like ‘Is this really happening?’ It’s a great opportunity.”
Nugent coached running backs and for five years at William and Mary before landing a spot on Marc Trestman’s coaching staff on the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. After Trestman was hired as head coach by Chicago in mid-January, Nugent was asked to come in for an interview. He was hired shortly thereafter.
Nugent will be working with the offensive coordinator on improving Chicago’s running game. Nugent said he could not comment on what strategic changes the staff would employ until it had reviewed current personnel and schemes.
“There could be worse situations to walk into,” Nugent said. “They won 10 games last year. Obviously there’s talent there.”
At an early age, Nugent was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and was told by doctors he would never play . After two-and-a-half years of treatment and undergoing a surgical procedure to correct the problem, Nugent was finally cleared to play football.
Nugent’s former coach at Stepinac Mike O’Donnell described Nugent as the “mayor of Stepinac” during his time with the Crusaders.
“He had the heart of a lion as you could imagine from a kid who once was told his career was over,” O’Donnell said. “He never gave up. He was a student of the game. He always prepared himself and his teammates to be the best. He has gone on to be a great coach and even better person.”
“The big thing with me is just how to be the guy in charge, how to interact with players,” Nugent said. “How to treat them right professionally. That’s really the big thing I got from (O’Donnell).”