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Nebraska Recruiting: The Good and the Bad for Huskers at Running Back

July 10, 2022

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


Let’s start with the good news, shall we?

Running back Emmett Johnson—a member of Nebraska’s 2022 recruiting class—was voted National High School Player of the Year. He was one of 20 athletes nominated for voting, coming out on top with 51.7 percent of the vote. More than 55,000 votes were cast for Johnson, just edging out Mississippi’s Brayson Hubbard.

A star running back for the Academy of Holy Angels, Johnson was named Mr. Football by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in 2021. He rushed for more than 2,500 yards and scored 42 touchdowns his senior season. By the end of his prep career, Johnson tallied nearly 5,000 yards and totaled nearly 6,000 all-purpose yards on offense and another 130 tackles on defense.

He racked up the honors and awards by the time he graduated, being named a two-time District MVP, three-time all-district selection, two-time all-metro pick and an all-state honoree. He was also selected as the Offensive MVP for the South team in the Minnesota High School All-Star Game following his senior season.

Johnson has a lot of work ahead before the season kicks off in late August, but he’s ready for it.

“I am really looking forward to showing Lincoln what I got,” Johnson told Hail Varsity in April. “I’m willing to do anything for the team to win. I just can’t wait to put the pads on and get to work.”

Now for the bad news, although it’s not exactly bad. It’s more of a current state of affairs for Nebraska on the recruiting trail.

With the commitment of Dontavius Braswell to South Carolina, Nebraska is back to the drawing board for a running back commitment in the 2023 class. Dylan Edwards was also on Nebraska’s radar, but he committed to Kansas State in June. It’s not that any of these prospects couldn’t flip their commitment—it’s certainly happened before—but the Huskers have to look at what’s next regardless.

Nebraska has 13 running backs listed on its roster and only two of those players are juniors (there are no seniors in the group). Eight of the 13 are listed as freshmen or redshirt freshmen, so there’s a lot of unknown with this group. With that said, it’s not a position group that is lacking in talent. Alongside Johnson, you have freshman Ajay Allen and redshirt freshman Gabe Ervin Jr. who are expected to be big playmakers for Nebraska. Sophomore Jacquez Yant has put in the work too and is expected to be a force for the Huskers in 2022. We also can’t forget about guys like Rahmir Johnson, Anthony Grant and Markese Stepp. Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite isn’t at a loss for talent in his room.

With that said, Nebraska is likely not interested in skipping out on a running back for the 2023 class. It isn’t time to panic with the commitment of players like Braswell or Edwards to other programs, but it is something to keep an eye on through fall. Where does Nebraska turn next? There isn’t a running back in the “top target” list on 247Sports at this time, but there are a couple in the “high choice” category.

Nebraska is making big strides on the recruiting trail for 2023, sitting with 14 commitments for the class (with the most recent commitment coming Sunday afternoon from EDGE Ashley Williams Jr.). Nebraska has the room for a running back—and still has the time to be selective with who it goes after—so it’ll be interesting to see where Applewhite and the Huskers’ recruiting staff turn next.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to have the National High School Player of the Year on the roster to point to when recruiting for the position either.

Recruit Watch

>> Nebraska’s 2023 recruiting class just got bigger on Sunday with the commitment of EDGE Ashley Williams Jr.

>> Offensive lineman Amir Herring is staying home. He announced his commitment to Michigan on Thursday.

Herring took official visits to Boston College, Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska.

>> Cayden Green, a 4-star offensive lineman on the Huskers’ radar, committed to Oklahoma on Friday. While from Missouri, Green’s family has deep ties to Oklahoma which made the Sooners the one to beat in this decision.

>> Cameron Lenhardt, a 4-star edge rusher from IMG Academy, released his top three on Friday. He also put Penn State and Michigan State in the lineup alongside Nebraska.

ICYMI

>> The Huskers kick off their season preparation on July 27, one month from their season opener against Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland. Here’s what you need to know.

>> With versatile veterans like Sam Griesel and Emmanuel Bandoumel joining the program, Nebraska basketball has placed an emphasis on defense this summer.

>> What’s the latest from Nebraska basketball’s summer workout? Jacob Padilla and Erin Sorensen discussed in our latest YouTube video.

>> Fred Hoiberg announced that assistant coach Armon Gates has left the program. Jacob Padilla updated our offseason tracker with the latest.

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