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Spring setup: Is there a more wide-open position on the Husker roster than a young RB group?

Spring setup: Is there a more wide-open position on the Husker roster than a young RB group?

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Arizona USC Football

As a member of USC in Oct. 29, Markese Stepp scores a touchdown against Arizona. Stepp joined the Huskers in January.

Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel scramble a late Friday podcast to revisit the news of the day: That Nebraska considered backing out of a Sept. 18 game at Oklahoma -- AD Bill Moos said NU explored the option of playing an eighth home game because of COVID-19's steep financial toll -- but ultimately ended up where it started. The Huskers and Sooners will play this fall. That's great. The rest is less simple. 

As the March 30 start of spring football draws nearer for Nebraska, the Journal Star is taking a brief look at each position on the roster and where the Huskers stand. This week continues with Ryan Held’s running backs room.

Monday: Offensive line

Tuesday: Tight end

Today: Running back

Thursday: Wide receiver

Friday: Quarterback

Saturday: Offensive two-deep projection

Returning scholarship players: Redshirt freshmen Rahmir Johnson and Ronald Thompkins; freshmen Marvin Scott and Sevion Morrison.

New this spring: Sophomore Markese Stepp and freshman Gabe Ervin.

Walk-on to watch: Cooper Jewett.

Veteran presence: As you can see above, there’s not much. Stepp, a USC transfer, has the most Division I experience, having compiled 100 carries over three seasons in Los Angeles. Among the returning players, Johnson has the most career carries at just 29.

Spring storyline

There might not be a more wide-open position room on Nebraska’s roster than running back. Dedrick Mills is off to pursue his professional dreams and NU’s second-leading non-quarterback rusher, Wan’Dale Robinson, transferred to Kentucky.

The above group returns a grand total of 38 carries from 2020 to the field this spring, and that means opportunity abounds.

Stepp is the logical candidate to be the front-man, considering his FBS experience. He’s a big, powerful player at 6-foot and 235 pounds. He’s also battled injuries in his college career.

Each of the four returning scholarship players is in a little bit of a different spot. Johnson is trying to gain more solid footing on a role in his third year. Scott is trying to build on the time he saw in 2020 as a rookie. Thompkins is trying to get over injury and inconsistency once and for all. Morrison is trying to get onto the field for the first time and show what made him a prized recruit in NU’s eyes.

Don’t let Ervin get too far to the periphery, though. He’s built like a three-down back, is already on campus and comes from a talented, winning program in Georgia.

In a wide-open race, anything can happen. But NU needs somebody (or somebodies) to step to the forefront, and quickly.

— 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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