Head coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers landed a big-time hire on Monday as the program retools for the 2021 season.
According to NFL Network reporter Jane Slater, LSU will bring on New Orleans Saints assistant Ryan Nielsen to take over the defensive coordinator duties in Baton Rouge. The 29-year-old apparently met with his current boss, Sean Payton, following the Saints playoff exit, to express his intention of taking the job.
Slater’s confirmation builds on an earlier Monday report from 247Sports that the Tigers had narrowed in on Nielsen for the role. LSU parted ways with previous defensive coordinator Bo Pelini earlier this offseason after a dismal 2020 season. The Tigers ranked 124th nationally in total defense en route to a 5-5 record.
The hire will represent somewhat of a reunion for Nielsen and Orgeron. The former defensive lineman played for the current LSU head coach at USC in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s before briefly serving as a volunteer assistant for the Trojans. Nielsen will return to a job under Orgeron, this time with some impressive experience of his own.
#LSU is working on finalizing a deal to name #Saints assistant Ryan Nielsen their new Defensive Coordinator sources tell me. Nielsen met with Sean Payton and told him of his intention to take the job earlier today.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) January 18, 2021
Nielsen spent the last four seasons under Payton as the Saints’ defensive line coach. The 29-year-old helped develop the unit into one of the best in the league during the span. Players like Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson have developed into league stars thanks to Nielsen’s tutelage.
Orgeron will round out his staff with the hire after having previously brought on Jake Peetz as the program’s new offensive coordinator. The 37-year-old assistant replaced Steve Ensminger who opted to retire following the 2020 season.
Both Peetz and Nielsen remain young, leaving Orgeron with the tall task of easing them into their roles. The veteran LSU head coach spoke about the importance of bringing on the right assistants earlier this offseason.
“I just have to get the right guys in,” Orgeron said on Jan. 8 per 247Sports. “It’s about the right fit for LSU and bringing the LSU standard of performance to LSU.”
LSU fans will need a bit of time to grow accustomed to their young new staffers. If Orgeron can bring them along nicely, the Tigers could be poised for further success in the near future.