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2020 Nebraska Football Preview: Running Backs

The youth movement is evident in a room with one senior and a whole lotta freshman (some redshirt) expected to carry the load

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Check out the other position previews:

Unless otherwise noted, any reference to a class year is for the 2020 season.

Time to make #RunTheDangBall guy happy.

Well, maybe.

Much like the preview of the wideouts, this article is mostly about potential.

Rewind to 2019

One quit. One found his groove late in the season. One DuckR combo back had to take more snaps out of the backfield than expected because of depth. One redshirted. One walk-on earned a scholarship...and then graduated.

I think that about covers it.

Returning rushing contributors

Position coach: Ryan Held

  • Dedrick Mills - senior RB- 745 yards; 5.2 ypc
  • Adrian Martinez (junior - quarterback) - 626 yards; 4.3 ypc (he and the other quarterbacks would have better numbers except in college, sack yards are counted against the rushing total rather than the passing total - which is stupid)
  • Wan’Dale Robinson (sophomore - DuckR receiver) - 340 yards; 3.9 ypc
  • Luke McCaffrey (redshirt freshman - quarterback) - 166 yards; 6.9 ypc
  • Noah Vedral (junior quarterback) - 106 yards; 3.5 ypc
  • Rahmir Johnson - redshirt freshman RB - 64 yards; 3.0 ypc
  • Brody Belt - sophomore RB - 32 yards; 6.4 ypc
  • JD Spielman - (senior - receiver) - 31 yards; 7.8 ypc
  • Austin Allen (junior - tight end) - 2 yards; 2.0 ypc

Other returning contributors:

Zach Weinmaster (redshirt freshman RB) played in two games in 2019 on special teams as a kick returner

Returning, but having no game appearances:

Corbin Ruth (junior), Connor Ruth (sophomore), Cooper Jewett (redshirt freshman)

Yes, Corbin and Connor are brothers. All three of the above are Nebraska natives.

Not returning

  • Maurice Washington - transferred out - 298 yards; 6.0 ypc
  • Wyatt Mazour - graduation - 74 yards; 3.5 ypc
  • Jaylin Bradley - transferred out - 8 yards; 4.0 ypc

You may have noticed that only three of the nine returning rushing yardage contributors are actually running backs. Wan’Dale was pressed into service as an RB after Mo Washington left the team and injuries piled up, but still...that is sort of scary for a team that has such a proud history of #RunningTheDangBall.

[Siren Sounds] Incoming

Redshirt freshmen:

Ronald Thompkins was either a four-star or high three-star recruit (depending on which recruiting service you follow). He tore his ACL twice in high school and did not see the field in his first year at Nebraska while he recovered from the second surgery. He is a biggish back and stands 5-11 and weighs 195. Thompkins is listed in the “incoming” section since we don’t know what he can do...yet.

True freshman:

The Huskers needed to stock up on bodies and they did, bringing in Sevion Morrison (four star; ranked 24th nationally at RB by 247) and Marvin Scott III (three stars and ranked 50th nationally at RB by 247) as scholarship backs and Beau Psencik, Isaiah Harris and Trevin Lubben as walk-ons.

Morrison is six feet tall and listed at 200 lbs while Scott is listed at 5’9” and 200 lbs. For the walk-ons, Psencik is listed at six feet and 190 while Harris and Lubben are both 170 lbs.

Coach Frost seems serious about getting some scholarship size in the backfield to backup Mills and compliment Rahmir Johnson and Wan’Dale Robinson.

Outlook for 2020

It all starts with the O-line, right? Nebraska is returning a significant amount of experience (possibly all of it if the starting lineup remains unchanged from last year) on the offensive line. Dual-threat QB Adrian Martinez is hopefully healed from shoulder and knee injuries that hampered him in 2019. Jack Stoll (senior tight end) returns as a very good run blocker as well. There are pieces in place to build and compliment a running game.

We pretty much know what we’re getting with Dedrick Mills and Husker fans liked what they saw from him in 2019, albeit after a somewhat slow start. Husker fans also saw just enough of Rahmir Johnson to be excited about his potential. Those two seem like the front runners for playing time out of the backfield, at least to start spring ball.

After that are a whole lot of questions.

  • Can some of the newcomers contribute enough that Wan’Dale can play most of his snaps at receiver?
  • Is Thompkins healthy?
  • Will Morrison or Scott emerge enough to cause the coaching staff to burn redshirts (something they have not done very often so far)?
  • What about the walk-ons? Will Brody Belt build on the momentum he gained in 2019 when the thin depth chart gave him some opportunities? Will Zach Weinmaster find a way onto the field outside of special teams snaps?

2020 Roster Running Backs

# Name Height Weight Class Hometown
# Name Height Weight Class Hometown
14 Rahmir Johnson 5-10 180 R-Fr. Oradell, N.J. / Bergen Catholic
24 Cooper Jewett 5-10 190 R-Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Elkhorn South
25 Ronald Thompkins 5-11 195 R-Fr. Loganville, Ga. / Grayson
26 Dedrick Mills 5-11 220 Sr. Waycross, Ga. / Georgia Tech/Garden City CC/Ware County
31 Zach Weinmaster 5-11 190 R-Fr. Loveland, Colo. / Loveland
38 Brody Belt 5-8 185 So. Omaha, Neb. / Millard West
43 Connor Ruth 5-11 215 So. Malcolm, Neb. / Seward
46 Corbin Ruth 6-0 220 Jr. Malcolm, Neb. / Northwest Missouri State/Seward
Isaiah Harris 5-9 170 Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Millard South
Trevin Luben 6-0 170 Fr. Wahoo, Neb. / Wahoo
Sevion Morrison 6-0 200 Fr. Tulsa, Okla. / Edison
Beau Psencik 6-0 190 Fr. Houston, Texas / Lutheran South Academy
Marvin Scott III 5-9 200 Fr. Port Orange, Fla. / Spruce Creek