As Nebraska's preseason camp approaches, Husker Extra is counting down the 30 most intriguing players on the roster.
A couple of notes: This isn’t best player or most important. As a list based on intrigue, it skews a bit toward youth and new players, but there will be plenty of established contributors, too.
The only scholarship player not considered for the list is defensive lineman Jahkeem Green, because at the outset of our countdown he is still in junior college and is only verbally committed to Nebraska.
No. 2: Dedrick Mills, running back, junior
Think about Devine Ozigbo's productivity last season, then think about what Mohamed Barry said about Mills earlier this month during Big Ten Media Days.
"When I tell you he's in the weight room working, he's working," said Barry, the Nebraska senior inside linebacker. "He reminds me of Devine a lot, so I don't think there's going to be a drop-off in the run game."
That sounds pretty intriguing, considering the 6-foot, 225-pound Ozigbo last season rushed 155 times for 1,082 yards (7.0 per carry) and 12 touchdowns.
Mills captures the imagination in part because at 6 feet and 220 pounds, he brings the sort of physical presence between the tackles that Ozigbo did. Mills is a powerful, efficient tackle-breaker. He fights exceptionally hard for extra yards, which should make him valuable on third-and-short as well as near the goal line.
You'll probably never see him angle for the sideline to avoid contact. He seems to enjoy contact. He just seems to enjoy the game in general.
A transfer from Garden City (Kansas) Community College, Mills has two seasons of eligibility remaining. He rushed for 1,358 yards and 19 touchdowns last season at Garden City. In 2016, he rushed for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games at Georgia Tech, capping the year with a 31-carry, 169-yard performance against Kentucky to earn MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
It's easy to imagine the Georgia native being Nebraska's starting running back on Aug. 31 against South Alabama, particularly considering sophomore Maurice Washington's ongoing legal situation in California.
“He’s a bigger kid," NU head coach Scott Frost has said. "When we need to get a tough yard, I think he’s going to get some yards after contact. And there might be some unique things we can do with him because of his past and his versatility.”