Running back battle continues for Husker football ahead of season opener

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Inside Memorial Stadium(KOLN)
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 1:04 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The running back position is one that has had the biggest question mark for Husker football ahead of the 2021 season. In a lot of other positions the Husker coaches have felt confident about the depth and veteran leadership in those rooms.

All that talk about the uncertainty at the running back position has left a big chip on the shoulders of the guys in that room according to assistant coach and running backs/recruiting coordinator, Ryan Held.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there, we don’t have a very good group, what’s the group, everything’s unproven. So, our guys want to go out there and prove that we have talent in the room,” Held said.

As far as an answer to the question of who will be the number one guy in the back field come week one, they are getting a little closer. “We’re getting closer, it’s starting to come to light. I’m not going to give you the depth chart right now but it’s starting to work itself through. It’s a very competitive group,” Held said.

Held says they are down to about four guys who are battling to be the guy for the Big Red this year.

“A couple of the other guys need to pick it up or they’ll be left behind,” Held said.

One of those guys battling for the spot who has had most of the hype around the Husker fan base is the freshman out of Georgia, Gabe Ervin Jr.

“I think he’s got some qualities that I think will be good for him in his career here,” Held said.

Ervin says he doesn’t listen to any of the outside noise.

“You can’t think of that, you just have to have that dog mentality and just get job done,” Ervin said. “I just think about what I need to do. I leave the outside noise to itself and whatever I do on the field will just take care of itself.”

Despite being one of the younger guys in the running back room, Ervin knows what it’s like to fight for a job with a talented roster. Coming from a great program out of Georgia in Buford High.

“Coming from Buford I had to fight from day one when I got there. So, it was kind of like reminiscent when I got to college it was the same thing, fighting for the job. Buford just had that standard and I had to live up to it when I came to Nebraska.”

Playing in the B1G is not an easy task. Especially, as a freshman at the running back position. For Ervin, that’s just another chip added to his shoulder as he makes a push to be the guy for the Huskers in the B1G this season.

“I’m ready. One, because my mindset is ready and I just have that dog mentality to bring it to the table and get the job done to win games,” Ervin said.

As the Huskers inch closer and closer to week zero against Illinois to open up the season other guys in the backfield battling with Ervin include Cooper Jewett, Markese Stepp, Jaquez Yant, Rahmir Johnson, and an abundance of freshman hungry to see the field.

Stepp who has also made some noise, transferred in from USC where he played from 2018-2020. He described Nebraska’s offense as gritty and came here to help run the football.

“They made an emphasis on running the ball and so to me that was the biggest thing. The style of offense they want to get things going downhill,” Stepp said.

Markese Stepp says the Huskers' "gritty" offense is a reason he transferred to Nebraska.

The Huskers open up the season against Illinois on August 28.

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