Adam DiMichele has known over the past 17 years that Matt Rhule was just a text message or phone call away.
A 2004 Sto-Rox graduate known as one of the most prolific three-sport athletes in WPIAL history, DiMichele played quarterback at Temple University and first met Rhule when he was named the Owls’ defensive line coach in 2006. The relationship continued when DiMichele then became a graduate assistant under Rhule at his Philadelphia alma mater in 2013.
Despite not having the opportunity to follow Rhule to his next head coaching stops at Baylor in the Big 12 or with the Carolina Panthers in the NFL, DiMichele has relished his opportunities to remain connected with his mentor over the ensuing years.
“Coach Rhule and I, and a couple of guys he’s had with him throughout his tenure at Baylor and with the Panthers, we have obviously stayed in touch and bounced ideas off of each other,” DiMichele said.
“We are probably two of the most competitive guys around, and we don’t like to lose,” DiMichele added. “When he got let go at the Panthers, I knew he wasn’t going to sit around and wait. I knew he was going to get back in there.”
And so, too, would DiMichele.
Rhule was hired as head coach at the University of Nebraska in November after he was fired by Carolina in October in the wake of the Panthers’ 1-4 start to the 2022 season. One of Rhule’s first courses of action in Lincoln, Neb., was to once again reach out to DiMichele and offer him a position on his staff as an offensive analyst with the Big Ten’s Cornhuskers.
“To me this was too big an opportunity to pass up, to be able to work with people I know and people I trust and people I’m comfortable with,” said DiMichele, who in eight seasons at Temple held a variety of positions under three head coaches before eventually becoming the program’s director of player personnel in 2021. “We all shared blood, sweat and tears on the field, as a staff. There’s been so many different things we’ve been through. It is just an exciting time for me personally but also for Nebraska football.”
The chance for Rhule to reunite with DiMichele — whom he described as having a “magnetic, charismatic way about him that drives people close” — was also too good to pass up.
“He’s the type of person young people, whether it was teammates or whether it was guys he’s coaching, they all run to,” Rhule said. “He has a way about him that’s pretty special. He has a really good football mind, a really great [way with] people. He’s a great teacher.”
DiMichele, who was a four-year starter in football, basketball and baseball at Sto-Rox, first rose to prominence when his 6,741 career passing yards with the Vikings made him then the top passer in WPIAL history. Although he originally committed to play football at Penn State, he instead then chose to play baseball at Okaloosa-Walton College in Florida and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 38th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball first-year players draft.
After passing for 5,024 yards at Temple, which ranks fourth all time at the university, DiMichele would go on to play football professionally at several different levels. He spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL, and played with the Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League before matriculating to the Erie Explosion in the Southern Indoor Football League and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League.
Rhule said once DiMichele gets “back involved and learning what we do,” he expects his newest offensive analyst to excel in his program.
“I think he’ll be awesome,” Rhule said. “He’s a guy that understands me and understands how we do things. I think he’ll do an excellent job.”
DiMichele’s role initially will be to analyze the play of Nebraska’s quarterbacks.
NCAA rules currently prohibit analysts from partaking in on-field coaching, but DiMichele said he expects to assist Nebraska’s staff in extensively breaking down film and game planning on a weekly basis while helping the Cornhuskers quarterbacks to develop their games.
“I think we have a really good room,” DiMichele said of Nebraska’s offensive staff led by offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield. “I’m just trying to get things situated … and do whatever it takes to get our guys to where they need to be and performing at a high level. Then once the season rolls around, we will be clicking at a high level.”
Nebraska currently has nine quarterbacks on its roster, led by Florida State transfer Chubba Purdy and Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Sims.
“Adam is just a tremendous guy with quarterbacks,” Rhule said. “He knows all the mechanics. He knows all the X’s and O’s.”
DiMichele said he is hopeful the NCAA will change its rule against allowing analysts to perform on-field coaching. He said in the meantime he will be doing everything in his power to help Nebraska’s offense excel.
“You can chart things you can see if the quarterbacks have the right footwork,” he said. “It’s just one of those deals where you do whatever you can, whatever they want you to do. Obviously, there’s breakdowns and there’s reports on the other teams we’re playing in the Big Ten. [I’ll be] in the meetings and being able to see how coach Satt has the quarterbacks rolling and just doing everything I can.”
DiMichele has been living in a hotel in Lincoln since Nov. 29. He said he is looking forward to having his wife, Kathy, and their sons, Grayson, 4, and Avery, 2, relocate to Nebraska this week. The DiMichele family previously lived in Oakdale where Adam was operating DiMichele Brothers Performance, a personalized training service business, with his brothers, Alex and Anthony.
“I had a plan in place for our business, and obviously things got halted because I decided to take a different route and pursue a way to impact on a higher level,” DiMichele said. “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do.”
Rhule couldn’t agree more. He said he expects DiMichele to excel on his staff and one day follow in his footsteps.
“He absolutely should be a head coach some day,” Rhule said. “He has the gift of football and the gift of people. At the college level, that’s really what it’s about.”
DiMichele said he plans to make the most out of another chance to work in a major college football program.
“I’m trying to take everything this time around day by day and find the way to get 1% better every day, like we say here, and really make an impact in any way possible,” DiMichele said. “That’s really the way I’m attacking this thing this time around.
“It does mean a ton,” he added of Rhule’s support. “I think it means, I would like to say, that he trusts me, he respects my opinions, on a lot of things.”