Nebraska football reported for fall camp on Thursday, which brought with it a press conference and a slew of stories on the season ahead based on some key updates from head coach Scott Frost.
The Husker assistant coaches won't meet with the media until next week, but if you're itching for an update on the running backs, position coach Ryan Held appeared on Husker Sports Nightly last night to offer his impression of each Nebraska back going into the season. (Note: The interview was recorded prior to the update of Maurice Washington's eligibility status.)
Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon
The two seniors on the roster combined for 60 percent of Nebraska's carries last season and 67.6 percent of the rushing yards, but Held said the veteran pair had at least one clear mandate this offseason.
"I told them being seniors that they need to be the leaders of the group," Held said. "They've earned the stripes through the years being in this program. They can run the football. They can. They're physical, they're strong. Weight room-wise I have no qualms about anything about them. They can also catch the ball. The thing I wanted them to do is trim up a little bit because it's a different offense. We go a little bit faster than what they've been used to."
Held went on to add that he thinks Ozigbo and Wilbon can be every-down backs, which is pretty much a prerequisite for a back in this offense that will look to run six or seven plays in a row, at a high tempo, without substituting.
Bryant was Nebraska's best back in 2017 –– at least for the six quarters he was able to play. A recurring knee issue sidelined Bryant for the remainder of the year. Frost said on Thursday that they'll be monitoring Bryant, but he is expected to take part in practices in August.
"I'm excited to see here at the end of summer what the final product will be going into fall camp," Held said. "I feel good where he's at. I don't get to make the call on that it's the training staff, where they feel he's at. But I know he's had a great attitude all summer, working hard, been a leader for us. It would be definitely nice for us to get Tre out there because he is a talented back, and I think he could definitely help us."
One of the top-ranked junior-college running backs in the country, Bell joined Nebraska in the spring and was the leading rusher among the running backs in the spring game with 54 yards on eight carries.
"Greg was a very highly recruited kid. He can run. He's very slippery, if you watch him, he can slither –– I think his nickname's "The Snake" or something –– but he can get through holes that aren't very big. He can get his body in certain positions to slither through there so to speak," Held said.
"He's a guy that can catch the ball, that can run it. He does give you a home-run hitter. His biggest challenge was getting used to Division I football, the wear and tear of where he needed to be every minute of every day. He needs to take care of his body because he is a muscle-bound guy so we've got to be smart in our training of him not to overtrain certain parts of his body."
The sophomore from Bellevue appeared in six games in 2017, the highlight being a seven-carry, 42-yard day against Purdue. (He also had three catches for 31 yards against the Boilermakers.)
"I challenged him to have a really good offseason in the weight room, which I think he did," Held said. "I do think Jaylin has good talent, he runs good routes, he can catch the ball. He is a bigger back, taller, and can put on good weight. He [was] a freshman. He went through and played some last year. He needs to be a great special teams guy for us. He just needs to be more consistent in everything he does, but I'm seeing progress in that."
While not a full-time running back Held did offer an update on true freshman Miles Jones, one of the more intriguing new additions for the Huskers this summer.
"Miles is a guy that is going to play slot receiver for us and then he'll be a running back, which we characterize as our Duck R position," Held said. "The guy we had at UCF last year, Otis Anderson, was a good player in that role. Miles is really, really smart. He's been able to pick a lot of this up this summer. I've heard good, good things with him [from] 7-on-7."
Anderson had 845 all-purpose yards for the Knights last season on 99 touches (8.5 yards per play). That included 69 carries and 30 receptions. Held noted that Nebraska walk-on Wyatt Mazour could also be a fit for the Huskers in a Duck R role.
If you want additional breakdowns of the walk-on backs at Nebraska, check out the full interview with Held below.
The Grab Bag
- Ohio State announced the six-person group that will conduct the investigation into Urban Meyer.
- How long will it take Dan Mullen to get Florida out of its rut?
- It was the summer of squats (spring, too, for that matter) at Nebraska and Derek Peterson looks at what's different for the Huskers under this staff.
- While football drew most of the focus on Thursday, Jacob Padilla was over at the Devaney Center to talk to members of the Husker vollebayll team as they return to practice.
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