Nebraska Football Coaches Scott Frost and Ryan Held Talking
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Young Running Backs Key to 2021 Offensive Success

January 17, 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.

There have been many storylines that Husker fans have had to keep their eye on during this offseason. It seems like returning seniors and wide receiver have taken a lot of attention so far. Wide receiver has become such a hot button issue for the program. That has allowed other positions to fly under the radar.

Running back is one of those positions. The room has seen some change this offseason. The Huskers would have loved to have Dedrick Mills back but he is off to the NFL. To soften the blow of losing Mills, the team did land a transfer commitment from former USC runner Markese Stepp. So the Huskers do have another veteran player for running backs coach Ryan Held to lean on.

But the Huskers will need production from more than just Stepp.

Nebraska’s running game has been hit or miss so far into the tenure of Coach Scott Frost. At his previous stops, the offense has produced prolific rushing results. That has come in part because Central Florida and Oregon could rely on multiple running backs to help carry the load. If the Huskers are going to achieve that in 2021, then they will need a young back already on the team to step forward.

The potential is certainly there for a back or two to become a reliable piece of the offensive puzzle. The problem is that we didn’t see enough in the 2020 season to feel comfortable picking one. Each young running back was in and out of action for the Huskers. Marvin Scott did get a start for the team and tallied 62 yards on 24 carried for the season. Rahmir Johnson and Ronald Tompkins combined for 54 yards on the season. Sevion Morrison didn’t play during 2020 due to illness and injury.

Freshman running back Gabe Ervin enters the picture soon. He arrives on campus in January as an early enrollee. The position group is wide open for him to make a move up the depth chart quickly. Frost mentioned what stands out about Ervin during his signing day press conference.

“He can do everything that we need a running back to do,” Frost said. “He’s big enough to run physical, he’s fast enough to potentially give us some more big plays, he catches the ball out of the backfield. His senior tape was really good. His junior tape was really good but his senior tape I was super impressed with.”

The Huskers are always going to utilize the quarterback run game as a way to move the football but they need to run the ball more consistently with running backs. It could actually help open things up for Adrian Martinez on the ground.

There are plenty of question marks at the position. The talent in the room has an opportunity to shine through. If it does, it would go a long way to helping the offense step forward.

Recruit Watch

>> Bellevue West 2022 tight end Micah Riley was re-offered by Auburn with the team’s new staff coming in.

>> New Jersey 2022 defensive back Avery Powell has the Huskers in his top 15.

>> Gracen Halton, a 2022 athlete from California, has a commitment date later this month and the Huskers are in the running.


>> Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg and seven players for Nebraska tested positive for COVID-19.

>> The shorthanded Husker women’s team upset No. 15 Ohio State, 63-55 over the weekend.

>> Check out the photo gallery from the game and watch Amy Williams’ postgame press conference.

>> Jacob Padilla is here to preview the 2020-21 Big Ten volleyball season.

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