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Running Back: Off-Season position outlook

It's no secret that most people view the running back position as the team's biggest weakness. The room features two veteran guys coming off pretty significant injuries and a young back who has looked serviceable in the time he played last season. With no proven 1,000-yard rusher or NFL talent in the room, someone needs to step up in a big way to help out a freshman QB. A quarterback's best friend is a consistent run game.

Emmett Johnson

In his redshirt freshman year, Emmett was unexpectedly thrown into the fire when Rahmir Johnson and Gabe Ervin both went down with season-ending injuries two games into the season. Emmett rushed for 411 yards on 90 carries averaging 4.6 yards per carry. A solid redshirt freshman season. He needs to take that next step this season. If Emmett can rush for 800+ yards this season, I would say we are above .500. When he puts his foot In the ground he can really hurt a defense. He's not a super dynamic playmaker, but he's gritty and fits for every yard. He's undersized so how the wear and tear of being the main back on a B1G team weighs on him will be interesting to see play out. Ahman Green said Emmett looked like an NFL running back during the practice he got to see this spring. Certainly, some good kool-aid for Emmett Johnson headed Into his sophomore season. My prediction and just about everyone else's Is that Emmett will be the starting back against UTEP August 31.

Rahmir Johnson

A pleasant surprise towards the end of last season was Rahmir announcing he would be back for a 6th year. That kick return he had against Minnesota plays in my head about 2 times a week. Boy, did he look good in the short amount of time we got to see him? Coming off of shoulder surgery trainers and coaches in the most recent episode of "Chasing 3" they said Rahmir looks faster and bigger than he ever has been. After looking super promising in 2021 his season was stopped short due to injury. Then in 2022, he wasn't given playing time and sat most of the year behind Ajay Allen and Anthony Grant (who were probably better than him, don't shoot me). Then again last year in 2023 his season was cut short again due to injury. The best case for Rahmir is for Satterfield to get creative with him. Split him out in the slot some this year. I think he could flourish playing a scat back type of role, a dump down option for DR. I would assume Rahmir will be the third down back this year, and I hope he Is the main kick returner as well. I'm not sure how much running In between the tackles he will do, but with Gabe Ervin's health seemingly always being a question mark, he might have to pick up more of the load.

Gabe Ervin

A career that has been filled with unfortunate injuries. Gabe was one of the first true freshmen to ever start at a running back in 2021 at the University of Nebraska. He showed a lot of promise, but his season only lasted three games as he tore his ACL against Oklahoma. In 2022 he had a very Iimited role coming off injury. Last year he had all the hype in the world, but again his season was cut short due to injury. This time it was the same hip injury that ended Bo Jackson's career. Obviously, medicine has improved since then, but I just have a hard time seeing Gabe having a major impact on the offense this year.

Dante Dowdell

Dowdell was one of the prime portal pickups for Rhule and Co. this off-season. A former top 75 4-star of the 2023 class didn't see much time in his first year at Oregon. He's got all the tools you want in a running back. He's 6'2" 215 lbs. and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash out of high school. In the spring game, he looked solid. Reminded me a lot of Imani Cross just a big bruiser. He popped off a 40-yard touchdown run where Rhule said he hadn't seen that type of burst out of Dante all spring. That was a little concerning to me considering it wasn't that much of a burst. There was a lot of smoke saying Dante was having a hard time adjusting to how Nebraska does things. Hopefully, he can settle in this summer, because I think he has a boatload of potential.

That's the running back position group. Certainly need this group to step up big time. 2017 Divine Ozigbo was the last time Nebraska had a 1,000-yard rusher. If I had to answer right now I don't think there is a 1,000-yard rusher on this team. They are going to have to get it done by committee.

Thanks for reading! Check out my other article post on the O-Line here

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