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Spring post-op: What we learned about NU's running backs, what we didn't and the to-do list

Spring post-op: What we learned about NU's running backs, what we didn't and the to-do list

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Red-White Spring Game, 5.1

Red Team's Gabe Ervin (22) rushes in the second quarter during the Red-White Spring Game on May 1 at Memorial Stadium.

Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett talk about the lull in the college football world before a wild June of recruiting visits and workouts begins. In baseball, Spencer Schwellenbach is rising up MLB Draft boards while the Huskers found out Friday that they will not play host to a regional in the NCAA Tournament. 

With spring ball in the rearview mirror, Nebraska rolls into the summer having answered some questions over the course of its 15 spring practices and with some still remaining.

Where does each position stand heading into the summer? The Journal Star is looking at one a day.

The series continues through NU's offense today with the running backs.

Monday: Quarterbacks

Today: Running backs

Wednesday: Wide receivers

Thursday: Tight ends

Friday: Offensive line

Saturday: Offensive depth chart projection

What we learned

We learned that USC transfer Markese Stepp arrived on campus with a pre-existing injury that required left foot surgery and cost him most of spring. We learned more about the name Jaquez Yant, the freshman walk-on who turned heads at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds. Ronald Thompkins, who has battled injuries, entered the transfer portal Wednesday.

What we didn’t

Who is going to start, who is going to fill out the rotation or, for that matter, really anything solid about how the backfield is going to shape up this fall. Several players missed at least a practice or two, and Rahmir Johnson missed most or all of the spring work. The rest of the group has talent but hardly any collective collegiate experience. This is as wide-open a race as there is on the roster. That might be even truer today than it was at the beginning of spring ball.

Standout player

Freshman Gabe Ervin. A bunch of the young backs had their moment this spring, but Ervin consistently impressed the staff from the day he arrived on campus from Buford, Georgia, in January. At 6-foot and 200 pounds, Ervin has the size to be a three-down back. Can he be that right off the bat? Time will tell, but the sentiment coming out of spring is that the freshman will have some kind of role come August.


Yant put his best foot forward this spring, too. The walk-on from Tallahassee, Florida is big and strong and showed pretty good wheels. Can he keep his spot in the pecking order when NU’s other big back, Stepp, gets healthy (assuming that happens this summer as Frost outlined timewise)? That’s another question. But "Jaq" certainly earned himself a good, long look in preseason camp with a productive spring.

Summer to-do list

Held said he needs the group to take a “Rocky IV” mentality. Frost said he wants a lead dog to emerge from the pack. Marvin Scott said he wants to focus on his breakaway speed. Everybody has their list. No decisions are going to be made before camp, but it’s fair to say jobs will be won in part by what the guys in the group accomplish this summer.

Parker Gabriel

Contact the writer at 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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