If it wasn't clear already, Ryan Held is excited about his incoming freshman running back duo of Marvin Scott and Sevion Morrison.
Tuesday night on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program, the Nebraska running backs coach reiterated what he thought of the duo after both have spent about a month on campus.
"I tell you, I don’t know how many running backs I evaluated across the country, but those were my top two guys. There was maybe a few national guys that we probably would not have been a factor with, but I would take these two guys over anybody in America," Held said.
He outlined similar reasons as he and coach Scott Frost both reeled off after National Signing Day in December — Scott's physical readiness as a high school power lifting champion in Florida and Morrison's length and speed — and added some more insights, too. Take Morrison, who is considered the slighter of the two but still is now up past 200 pounds before his first college camp begins.
"Sevion is a guy that when it’s all said and done can be a 225-pound big-time running back," Held said. "He’s got that game-changing speed that we’re looking for. Both of those guys are really, really talented, and I think are going to be good players for us.
"But again, they're freshmen, so we’ve got to be patient, and I’m not going to put the cart before the horse or crown them anything yet until we get out there. They've got to be able to execute and take care of their bodies and be able to compete at the collegiate level because it's a different deal."
Held said he feels better about his room than he has so far in his first two-plus years at Nebraska. That, in part, is because he has a senior back in Dedrick Mills who came on strong at the end of the 2019 season. Held attributed that strong finish for the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Mills to getting used to playing in a spread offense.
He also said redshirt freshman Rahmir Johnson has put on 10 pounds or so of good weight and is past a minor groin injury that nagged him at times over the course of his first collegiate year.
"I’m excited about what we can get out of him," Held said. "He’s obviously a very smooth runner and he’s worked on some things this offseason, running routes and catching the ball, which is something that's very important for all of the guys but specifically for him."
The wild card of the group is redshirt freshman Ronald Thompkins, who had major injuries to each of his knees in high school and has had continued injury problems over his first year at Nebraska. Held, though, is impressed with the progress the Georgia native has made.
"He's kind of been the X-factor in this with us not knowing and him coming back from the injuries," Held said. "He's made a lot of progress, and I think he's a guy that can factor into this fall. He's really worked hard to put himself in this position and to be a factor.
"We've got to be smart with him. He's not a guy you're going to go out there and give 70 reps to, but he's a guy I think that if he can continue on with the progress, will have a chance to really help this fall because he is really talented."
Overall, Held said his group knows it has to rise to the occasion given the collective lack of experience.
"There's some unknowns, obviously, so we've got to have a chip on our shoulder because we really only have one guy returning that played any minutes," Held said. "We do have guys I think that can go out there and be good running backs and get this position back to where it needs to be for Nebraska football."
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