Nebraska running backs coach Bryan Applewhite is still getting the lay of the land in his new position. The former TCU coach was hired on Jan. 13 as part of coach Scott Frost’s overhaul of the offensive coaching staff. He hasn’t had a lot of time coaching his unit yet at Nebraska. There has already been a common word associated with what he brings to the table.
“I think he’s very good dude,” Johnson said. “Very high motor actually. I’m excited to have met my coach. I’d describe the new coaches as energetic. Ready to get things done and that’s what we need.”
Being described as energetic was music to Applewhite’s ears. He explained why it’s important to him to bring constant energy on a daily basis.
“It’s football in general, you got to have some energy,” Applewhite said. “I love this sport. I love playing it. I love coaching it. I love watching it. I love learning about it. If you’re not loving what you’re doing, then what are you doing? That’s just who I am because I love it so much. I’m glad he said that, because I want to come off like I have some energy and it’s not fake. It’s authentic. I’m tired right now. I don’t know if you guys could tell I lost my voice. I hit 10,000 steps at 9:30 on my watch. That’s the first time I’ve done that.”
It doesn’t take much to bring the competitor out of Applewhite. He was watching his daughter’s volleyball tournament on livestream Saturday. The coach got so fired up that he was walking around his office clapping and getting mad. That’s at the core of who he is.
Applewhite did offer his first impressions on some of the players he will be coaching. Jacquez Yant showed up this spring in great shape and Applewhite said that he’s a great kid. Yant has been eager to learn to find ways to get better. Returning leading rusher Rahmir Johnson stood out to Applewhite on film because of his feet, speed and hands. Anthony Grant is new to the program but Applewhite noted his toughness and burst on his film.
Competition will be at the center of the conversation for his room this spring. There is no established lead back returning with a new coach to adjust to. Applewhite is just fine with letting things play out in his room.
“I want to create as much competition as possible,” Applewhite said. “Competition does two things for you. You get better or you quit. If there ends up being a bell cow April 9. I will set the depth chart. Then we start practice again in August, I’m cleaning it. Start all over. Kids change over the summer. The kid I may have number three, that might be his motivation. ‘I want to be number one or I thought I was number one.’ His summer might be totally geared to being the number one guy. I say this every day, the back or running backs who are going to play are the ones who are going to help Nebraska win one Friday and on Saturdays.”
There will be a lot of focus on how the running back race plays out this spring. The Huskers need to establish a run game with the running backs this fall to take steps forward as a program. The new coach leading the room sounds ready to put his stamp on the position quickly.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.