Nebraska Spring Look Back: Running Back
Next in our spring football positional recaps, we will be giving our final take on Nebraska's running backs...
WHAT WE LEARNED: Huskers have three promising backs
Johnson has experience starting for the Huskers, JUCO transfer Grant had the best run of the Red-White game and Yant has leaned out to improve his stamina and explosiveness.
We also learned that the Huskers will likely have a rotation of two or three backs come fall. But it seems each back has proven their unique abilities are valuable to running backs coach Bryan Applewhite.
While it seems the top three are locked in now, there are three more players being added to the mix this offseason.
BIGGEST SPRING CONCERN: What's next for Markese Stepp?
Running back Markese Stepp seemed to have a high ceiling when he transferred from USC before the 2021 season. However, a foot injury set him back in the 2021 season and he didn't receive as much playing time as expected.
In the spring game, Stepp had two carries for 15 yards, including a 12-yard run in the third quarter. Stepp only played in the second half when tackling was allowed. This gave the indication that he is not in the running for the starting job at this point.
During the third quarter, Stepp looked to have tweaked his ankle. He marched to the sideline and threw down his helmet in frustration.
Are injuries holding Stepp back or something else? Could he be one of the names we see in the transfer portal this offseason? We'll see.
SPRING SURPRISE: Jaquez Yant with a big spring
Yant had a big spring as he lost 20 pounds during the offseason and said he has better stamina, is faster and more explosive.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back struggled at points during the 2021 season. During the Minnesota game, Yant tripped before the goal line on fourth-and-one on Minnesota's one-yard line in the third quarter. He opted not to play against Ohio State later in the season.
The highlight of his season was a 64-yard run against Northwestern and a 127 rushing yard performance against the Wildcats. He also broke away of a 33-yard run against Purdue.
After a rough back half of the 2021 season, Yant bounced back by getting his body right, losing 20 pounds since he arrived at Nebraska and increasing his stamina to get more consecutive reps.
During the spring game, Yant rushed for 29 yards on 11 attempts. However, the 'thud' or no tackling rule impacted his ability to run behind his pads and break tackles, which is his style of running.
LOOKING AHEAD: Adding more competition
Nebraska's running back room is going to get more competition this offseason.
This summer, freshman Ajay Allen and Emmett Johnson will arrive and add more competition to the running back room. Redshirt freshman Gabe Ervin Jr. will likely be back in the mix after suffering a knee injury after playing four games in the 2021 season.
Ervin started the 2021 season at running back as a true freshman. He had 37 carries for 133 yards with two touchdowns. On Husker Chat Live, Ervin said it's been hard to sit back and watch this spring pracitce. He said he is itching to get back on the field.
Allen, a four-star recruit, flipped from TCU to Nebraska to follow Applewhite and was one of the best running backs in Louisiana and the country. Johnson was named Mr. Football by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in 2021.
The running back group is bound to get much more interesting.