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Nebraska Recruiting: Toughness a Must to Play Running Back for Bryan Applewhite

March 02, 2022

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Recruiting analyst Greg Smith recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.


This offseason the Huskers brought in four new offensive coaches. There is bound to be a shift in how the team evaluates and recruits players when that happens. We saw a mad dash of new offers go out for Nebraska at the end of the 2022 recruiting cycle. A lot of those offers were a result of fresh eyes and viewpoints on prospects by the new staff. Some were also related to getting offers out in recruiting areas those coaches are comfortable with.

The last coach to join the staff was running backs coach Bryan Applewhite. He’s got a major task ahead of him sorting out the running back room at Nebraska. It is traditionally a glamor position at the school that has not been up to par in recent years. Applewhite played a large role in the Huskers landing Ajay Allen for the 2022 class. Allen was committed to Applewhite at TCU and will follow him to Lincoln. Allen is the only recruit so far that Applewhite brought to Lincoln. That makes sense because he is so new at his position. What is it that Applewhite is looking for in prospects around the country?

“Toughness. I want a tough kid first. I don’t care how much this game has changed,” Applewhite said. “Tough still wins. I look for athletic kids, multiple sport kids. It’s hard for me to recruit a running back that does not run track. If he doesn’t run track, you’d better be special in another sport. Basketball, baseball something where he’s really special. That way I can see other athletic abilities. Toughness, multi-sport athletes, kids, that run track. Then I want a smart kid. One that is passionate about football, loves football.”

Applewhite believes that you’ve got to love what you’re doing because football isn’t an easy sport. There has to be a level of commitment and mental toughness to be a college athlete. It’s not easy to get up at four in the morning, have breakfast at six then by eight o’clock practice for two and a half hours. After doing that you only have time to take a shower and go to class. That’s why finding kids that love football is so important.

The Huskers’ running backs coach has a good mix of skills to help him find those players. He’s honest with his players and has a lot of energy. Applewhite says that he loves recruiting. He enjoys building relationships with recruits and the people in their lives.

“I love the opportunity that I have and the university I’m working for has in impacting a family’s life for 40 years,” Applewhite said. “That’s probably my biggest joy. It’s building the relationships. Allowing a kid who’s coming from Monroe, Louisiana, that hasn’t left Louisiana before he has an opportunity to go get an education and find a university and play football at the same time. The impact that that’s going to have on that young man’s life for 40 years is a lot greater than four years of football.”

Applewhite’s ability to recruit and develop his position will get a lot of attention. It’s important to the future of the program that the team finds a reliable rushing attack with running backs. He’s got a good starting point with the traits his is looking to fill his room with.

Recruit Watch

>> Iowa 2023 defensive lineman David Borchers is excited to get to Lincoln this weekend for Junior Day.

>> Texas 2023 defensive line target Riley Van Poppel was named DL MVP at a camp recently.

ICYMI

>> The Huskers claimed their second road win in three days taking down No. 23 Ohio State on Tuesday night.

>> Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher is challenging his players to have an NFL mentality this spring.

>> Jacob Padilla ponders if Bryce McGowens is the Big Ten’s best freshman in this week’s Padding the Stats.

>> Donovan Raiola is working to put his touch on Nebraska’s offensive line this spring.

>> The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions in the mailbag including how far the women’s team can go in the B1G Tournament.

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