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Illinois at Nebraska, 11/10/18

Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo (22) runs for a touchdown Nov. 10 against Illinois at Memorial Stadium. Ozigbo is hoping to be taken this weekend in the NFL Draft.

Ryan Held watched Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo rush for 1,082 yards last season on 7.0 per carry. Ozigbo's improvement was one of the team's most intriguing stories of 2018.

So, Held was taken aback last month when Ozigbo wasn't invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where running backs tested this past Friday.

"I'll be honest with you, I was very disappointed," the second-year Husker running backs coach said Tuesday. "Look at what he did. He rushed for 1,100 yards in the Big Ten, one of the best leagues in the country. I'm not an NFL guy, but I can tell you this: When you look at his skill set — 220-plus pounds and a guy who can run and catch the ball, it's impressive.

"I think there were 28 other running backs who were chosen to go to the combine. I mean, tell me there are 28 better running backs than him in the United States. I just don't believe it."

The good news: Ozigbo will have a chance to shine for NFL scouts Thursday during Nebraska's Pro Day.

"He can go out there and prove himself," Held said. "That's all the NFL is, is proving people wrong. When there are questions about you, go out and prove people wrong, and and I think he'll go out there and test well and end up getting a shot somewhere.

"Somebody's going to get a really good player because he's a great person and he's already got his degree. I mean, here he is. He's what you're looking for as an NFL team, I would think."

Nebraska offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Ozigbo could benefit from the same sort of prove-it mentality that he had as a Husker.

"Last year in the fall, he came in and was third or fourth string, and he kept working, kept plugging, kept learning the offense, and when his number was called, he made plays," Walters said. "So as long as he takes that same mentality to the next level, he’ll be just fine."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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