Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Gabe Ervin’s Rapid Rise to Starting Running Back Started Before Arriving in Lincoln

September 02, 2021

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.


“The advice I would give them is to go in like you are that top dog,” true freshman running back Gabe Ervin Jr. said. “Go in with that champion mindset and everything else will just fall in its place.”

That’s what Ervin would tell an incoming freshman hoping to replicate what he was able to do so far at Nebraska. Starting your first college game as a freshman at running back is a rare thing in college football. It’s even more rare at Nebraska with its rich tradition at the position.

It wasn’t the debut that Ervin hoped for statistically against Illinois. The Husker ground game never got momentum. He was held to just 33 yards on 12 carries. Ervin has the second most carries on the team behind quarterback Adrian Martinez. While things didn’t go the way anyone wanted on the stat sheet, the freshman still had to have done something right to work himself into that position.

Ervin came to Nebraska from powerhouse Buford High School in Georgia. He was used to competing at a high-level while winning a lot of games. The runner picked up a lot of good habits in high school. Those carried over to when he arrived early at Nebraska in January. Those habits stood out to tight ends coach Sean Beckton. He and running backs coach Ryan Held had a large role in recruiting Ervin to Nebraska.

“His maturity stood out since day one since arrived here at the University of Nebraska,” Beckton said. “The attention to detail and his work ethic. Everything he does he’s very attentive to getting better. He studies the game. Credit to Coach Held. He’s done a great job with him as soon as he got in here. He put it all together.”

You can get a good sense of how talented a player is during the recruiting process. Toughness is something that is hard to get a true feel for. The Huskers found out about Ervin’s toughness this spring. He was trying to put himself in position to compete for the starting job among returning players. Beckton noted that the young player did well protecting during his first game too. It’s difficult to pick up Nebraska’s system as a freshman but Ervin has handled that well.

Running backs can be tricky to recruit. Star ratings can’t always account for how well a player fits into the college system the player is entering. It appears that Ervin fits like a glove into the Huskers’ plan. His early playing time also helps Nebraska in living rooms around the Atlanta metro area.

The Georgia native was a popular pick as a sleeper to come out of the 2021 recruiting class. He had an opportunity to come into a crowded but unproven room and make an impact early. Credit to him for being mature enough to handle that. He’s got plenty to build on after the first game but based on what we’ve heard so far, he has a bright future ahead of him.

Recruit Watch

>> Check out the edit the Huskers did for linebacker commit Jake Appleget ahead of his game this weekend. Hail Varsity will be in the house to check out Lincoln Southeast’s game on Friday.

>> Asa Newsom, a 2023 defender from Iowa, got a cool edit from Nebraska. Newsom also happens to be the younger brother of current Nebraska defensive lineman Mosai Newsom.

ICYMI

>> Scott Frost is looking for offensive line consistency as the Huskers host Fordham this weekend.

>> The I-80 Preview podcast is tackling the Big Red vs. The Bronx this week with Brandon Vogel.

>> Tom’s Time looks back at a better Week Zero outing for Nebraska to kick off the 1994 football season.

>> As Drake Keeler writes, the Nebraska sellout streak initiative should change the way we think about fandom.

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