Nebraska has added another assistant coach, and it went into Big 12 territory to do it.
The Huskers announced that Bryan Applewhite will coach the running backs. Applewhite has been the running backs coach at TCU since February 2020. TCU finished 5-7 this season and went through a mid-season coaching change as longtime Horned Frogs head coach, Gary Patterson, and the program mutually parted ways on Oct. 31, 2021. Sonny Dykes was hired by TCU to be its next head coach on Nov. 29 and hired his own running backs coach, Ra’Shaad Samples.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) January 13, 2022
“Bryan Applewhite has proven himself as an outstanding running backs coach during his two decades in college football,” Scott Frost said. “I know that our running back room will benefit from his knowledge and experience. Bryan is a great addition to our staff, and I am excited for him to join our other new offensive coaches. I couldn’t be more pleased with the additions to our coaching staff and look forward to working closely with all of them.”
Applewhite’s hire makes the 2022 Husker coaching staff complete. Here’s how the new 10-man staff looks right now:
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Mark Whipple
Running backs: Bryan Applewhite
Receivers: Mickey Joseph
Tight ends: Sean Beckton
Offensive line: Donovan Raiola
Defensive coordinator: Erik Chinander
Interior defensive line/outside linebackers: Mike Dawson
Inside linebackers: Barrett Ruud
Defensive backs: Travis Fisher
Special teams coordinator: Bill Busch
Applewhite takes over for former Husker assistant and recruiting coordinator Ryan Held, who was fired in November along with three other assistants and has since landed at FCS-member North Alabama, where he’ll be the offensive coordinator and associate head coach. Longtime Husker assistant Ron Brown, who was serving as a senior analyst, took over for Held and coached the running backs while also helping out on the recruiting trail.
Applewhite is the fourth new coaching hire at Nebraska, joining offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, receivers coach/associate head coach and passing game coordinator Mickey Joseph and offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.
In December, defensive line coach Tony Tuioti announced that he was leaving Nebraska for the same position at Oregon. The team officially announced that Mike Dawson will coach the defensive line/interior linemen along with outside linebackers. Dawson was Nebraska’s d-line coach in 2018—one season prior to Tuioti’s arrival in Lincoln—before taking the outside ‘backers coaching job with the New York Giants in 2019.
Applewhite takes over a running backs room at Nebraska that currently has six scholarship players in it, including the leading returning rusher, Rahmir Johnson, as well as Jaquez Yant, Markese Stepp, Gabe Ervin Jr. and Emmett Johnson, the lone running back recruit in the 2022 class. The Huskers also picked up the commitment of Deondre Jackson this offseason, a former running back at Texas A&M.
Johnson rushed for 495 yards and four touchdowns while also providing a passing threat out of the backfield with 16 catches for 197 yards and two scores. Yant, a 245-pounder from Florida, had 294 yards and one score in his second season in Lincoln. Many will remember Yant’s special outing against Northwestern, where he rushed for 127 yards on 13 carries. Yant’s playing time was inconsistent in 2021 due to off-the-field issues.
The 230-pound Stepp rushed for just 177 yards and two touchdowns after transferring in from USC. Ervin, a Georgia native, was the first true freshman to start the season-opener at Nebraska in the modern era but saw his year end after just four games after going down with a season-ending knee injury at Oklahoma.
“It is an honor to join the coaching staff at Nebraska, one of the most storied and tradition-rich football programs in the country,” Applewhite said. “I am appreciative of the opportunity Coach Frost has given to me and my family, and I look forward to working alongside him and the rest of the coaching staff. I can’t wait to get to Lincoln to meet the young men in our program and get to work.”
With Applewhite on board, TCU had the top rushing offense in the Big 12 in 2020, averaging 214.7 yards per game. That year, three Horned Frog running backs had over 300 yards rushing, including Darwin Barlow, Zach Evans and Kendre Miller. Evans, a former 5-star recruit, is currently in the transfer portal.
In the 2021 season, TCU finished third in the Big 12 in rushing at 196.25 yards per game. Applewhite had three players rack up over 400 yards rushing, including Evans, Miller and Emari Demercado.
Before his time at TCU, Applewhite spent five seasons at Colorado State. In 2018, he had the title of recruiting coordinator added to his duties as running backs coach.
From 2010-14, Applewhite spent five seasons coaching running backs at Louisiana-Monroe. He was also the running backs coach at Montana State (2009) and Wyoming (2003-08). Before going to Wyoming, he coached at his alma mater, Northern Colorado, from 1999-2002. Applewhite was a fullback at Northern Colorado from 1994-98 and played on teams that won two NCAA Division II National Championships in 1996 and 1997.