Nebraska running back Anthony Grant has found ways to impress his head coach on and off the field through the offseason.
When asked about the returning starter at media availability Tuesday, Matt Rhule made note of his summer internship at the non-profit Center for People in Need.
“They said he was one of the best interns they’ve had in a long time,” Rhule said. “He’s a kind-hearted, wonderful young man.”
Later, Grant talked about the experience.
“Great people, they really help a lot of people around Lincoln and around the area,” he said.
As the season approaches, Grant is also likely to make an impact on the field once again. The transfer who spent time at Florida State and New Mexico Military Institute had 915 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2022, along with over 100 receiving yards. After Ajay Allen went down with a season-ending injury early in the year, Grant essentially served as the one and only backfield option.
Based on what the new coaching staff has said throughout the offseason, that isn’t likely to be the case in 2023. Much excitement has gone toward Gabe Ervin Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2021 and hasn’t been able to get back to full strength until recently.
Of course, last year’s top producer is still a major part of the picture.
“Anthony, we all know he can run the football at a high level,” Rhule said. “There’s also a lot more to playing running back than that, and I see him developing in those areas.”
Grant pointed out consistency as an area he wanted to improve on. He had 600 of his rushing yards and five of his touchdowns in the first five games of the season, topping 50 yards in a game just twice after that. His final three games were his quietest, as his last 41 carries went for 57 yards. He said last season was eye-opening, learning what it was like to play in the Big Ten.
“Last year, sometimes I was stuck in this little situation where I probably could’ve done something better on this play or this drive,” Grant said. “It wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was doing, but just taking that next step to being elite.”
With a wider share of carries, a drop in total yardage for Grant is possible, if not likely. What might be most worth watching is his yards per carry — his mark of 4.2 last year was the worst for a top Nebraska running back since 2017.
Despite the competition, Grant believes in his fellow running backs, and said he has their backs as a veteran in the room. Beyond Grant and Ervin Jr., players like Rahmir Johnson and Emmett Johnson are potential contributors. Those four have all been in the program for at least one year already, but will look to make more of a collective impact this upcoming season.
They were all present to see last year’s 4-8 record. Grant, among others, believes he can help that change quickly.
“As far as where we’re sitting at with the wins and losses, I really feel like I can flip it around for us this year,” Grant said. “… I feel like a lot is expected from me, I feel like I can really do something big this year, I can really do something special.”