Looking ahead to the 2022 Nebraska football season, we’re rounding up all of the departures, newcomers, and the returners in a summer position-by-position breakdown series.
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- Marvin Scott III (transfer)
- Sevion Morrison (transfer)
- Anthony Grant (Jr, NM Military Inst.)
- Ajay Allen (Fr, Monroe LA)
- Emmett Johnson (Fr, Minneapolis MN)
- Gabe Ervin (RFr)
- Rahmir Johnson (So)
- Markese Stepp (Jr)
- Jaquez Yant (So)
The rich history and excellence of the running back (I-back) position at Nebraska is still fresh in the minds of many. However, it’s been a little while since that excellence has translated to field.
Last 1,000 yard rusher? Devine Ozigbo in 2018.
Last first-team all-conference performer? Ameer Abdullah in 2013.
If you takes sacks out of the equation, the Huskers’ leading rusher each of the last three seasons was quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Now, with the 2022 season bearing down on us, who will emerge as the leader of a group made up entirely of underclassmen and one-time transfers?
Last year’s leading rusher at running back, Rahmir Johnson (pictured at top of article), looks to build off a strong finish to 2021. Johnson scored six touchdowns – four rushing, two receiving – which was tied for second-most on the team.
Gabe Ervin emerged from the crowd early last season, averaging about 10 touches over NU’s first four games. A knee injury against Oklahoma knocked him out for the rest of the year. Now, the redshirt freshman is back to full strength and aiming for a starting job.
Markese Stepp, who transferred to Nebraska from USC in 2021, and Jaquez Yant, a 2020 walk-on, both played in just seven games last season. Each back had fleeting moments where it seemed they may be “the guy,” but then they didn’t factor into the game plan at all.
Sevion Morrison and Marvin Scott III left the program. Head coach Scott Frost, among other offseason moves, fired running backs coach Ryan Held. Bryan Applewhite moved up to Lincoln from TCU, where he directed two top-30 rushing attacks nationally in his two years as RB coach.
Applewhite offered TCU commit Ajay Allen shortly after getting the Nebraska job, and Allen flipped on signing day to the Huskers.
Another Applewhite target was Anthony Grant, a juco star at New Mexico Military Institute. Grant committed to NU just two days after a mid-January official visit.
Minneapolis native Emmett Johnson was already on board before Applewhite’s arrival, signing early with the Huskers in December.
Allen and Johnson just arrived as true freshmen as the spring semester wound down. Grant, however, graduated from high school back in 2018 and enrolled at Florida State. After entering the transfer portal in June 2020, Grant became an All-American, claiming the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year award and a national championship in 2021.
To sum it all up, Nebraska has options in the offensive backfield. With a new position coach and offensive coordinator, the Huskers hope for more production, consistency and winning plays from their backs.