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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 11, freshman RB Gabe Ervin Jr.
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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 11, freshman RB Gabe Ervin Jr.

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As the countdown to the beginning of Nebraska’s preseason camp continues, the Journal Star is counting down its annual list of the 30 Most Intriguing Huskers.

The list, as always, is not about the 30 best players or the 30 most important players, but is based instead purely on intrigue. We’ll cover breakout candidates, new faces, old heads and more. The list tends to skew toward youth and inexperience because, well, those types of players are intriguing. But there are more than a few regulars, too.

No. 30: Thomas Fidone, tight end, freshman

No. 29: Will Nixon, wide receiver, freshman

No. 28: Noa Pola-Gates, defensive back, redshirt freshman

No. 12: Damion Daniels, defensive lineman, junior

No. 11: Gabe Ervin Jr., running back, freshman

Nebraska’s running back picture is a bit of a jumble heading into preseason camp. Position coach Ryan Held has made no bones about it, saying he needs two or three guys to step up and lead a pack of six scholarship players with a sum total of 53 carries at Nebraska (all split between Rahmir Johnson and Marvin Scott III). Held and the Nebraska staff weren’t showing their cards this spring, either.

The question that keeps coming up, though, is if perhaps Ervin is already making a run at being the top of the pack. Some of that will depend on the health of USC transfer Markese Stepp, who missed nearly all of the spring due to foot surgery, but Ervin certainly impressed in his first five weeks in pads for the Huskers.

The Georgia native has size at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, good balance and showed some burst in limited open sessions, participated in most of spring ball except for a couple of practices due to a minor ankle injury, and drew praise for the way in which he went about his work.

“It means something to him. He wants to be really, really good,” Held said this spring. “He’s mad when he doesn’t execute a play right. That’s what I want. I want it to bother the heck out of guys if they don’t do it right.”

Life in the Big Ten is rugged, particularly between the tackles, but several backs have had productive freshman seasons in recent years in the Big Ten West. How quickly can Ervin make the adjustment? He’ll have plenty of competition, from Stepp, Scott, Johnson, Sevion Morrison and freshman Jaquez Yant — notice the 245-pounder hasn’t appeared on the Most Intriguing Huskers list…yet — but Ervin played a high level of high school ball in Georgia and has been on campus since January.

He’ll have a chance to prove he deserves to be out there when the No. 1 offense takes the field for the first time against Illinois.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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