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An Early Look At Nebraska’s 2024 Running Back Room

Nebraska's 2024 running back room

On April 27th, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will have their annual Spring game. A lot of focus will be on the quarterback position, especially now that five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola has signed with the program. But which young players could be beside one of the program’s signal callers on game day?  It’s an interesting question to think about. After all, position coach EJ Barthel is going to want an increase in production in his second year with the program.

Dante Dowdell

The freshman running back from Mississippi was dependable for the  Oregon Ducks in 2023. On just 17 carries, his physical running style gained him 90 yards and one touchdown over his five appearances.  And Dowdell can beef up those numbers as a part of Glenn Thomas’s new offense. His experience in a better program will serve him well when it comes to punishing defenses in the new Big Ten.  But there’s just one problem. Will he overcome the veteran presence that the Cornhuskers now have on their roster?   Spring practice is just around the corner, which means that head coach Matt Rhule is likely deploying older talent to contribute a bulk of the minutes. Because of this strategy, there’s no doubt that this will make it harder for him to win the job. But he’s well equipped to handle the load. As the only running back commit that the Cornhuskers took this cycle, we could see him become the program’s starting back in August. It’s even more exciting when Raiola is involved.

Read more about the Oregon transfer in What Does Dante Dowdell Bring To The Nebraska Cornhuskers?  

A Second Half Burst

When Gabe Ervin went down with an injury early on in the 2023 season, it left a huge hole in the Cornhuskers running back room. This left freshman Emmett Johnson to take the reigns in the Husker running game. And for the most part, he succeeded expectations in the second half of the season. During this time, he had a total of 411 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, he provided some relief to the team’s receiving game. In that area, he had seven receptions for 46 yards.  maintain the same production in a revamped offense under Thomas, or will Barthel have another back take the reigns? It will be interesting what the coaching staff has in mind for the returning veteran. But if the coaching staff chooses his talents,  he could maintain his production throughout all of the team’s season.

After some crunch-time football, @HuskerFootball has cut the Spartans lead to three thanks to this TD by Emmett Johnson. 🤩

 

Rahmir Johnson

In 2023, the New Jersey native was involved sparingly in Marcus Satterfield’s offense last season. On just 12 carries, he only averaged 65 yards. However, he should have a better 2024. He’s back from his dislocated shoulder injury and there’s a new face at the helm of Nebraska’s offense. Does that mean a new role as well? He’s been awfully quiet in the Rhule era so far.   The exception to this rule was in the third season of the Scott Frost era when he was able to rush for 495 yards and four touchdowns. But Raiola could foster even more of an explosion in the New Jersey native’s farewell. He’s Nebraska’s highest-rated recruit since 2008, and a legacy because of his dad. Two great reasons that their pairing should provide some explosion inside Barthel’s room this season. But the question is how he will fare after the season. If he wants any NFL opportunities,  he doesn’t have much consistency to make him marketable to many of the 32 teams.

Kwinten Ives

As a freshman for the Cornhuskers in 2023, Ives took a redshirt at the running back position. With a talent surplus at the position,  the New Jersey native had trouble seeing action on that side of the ball in his first year. But it was a different story on special teams. With an injury to Billy Kemp IV against Northwestern,  the 185-pounder was thrust into the spotlight against the  Maryland Terrapins. But as a starter, he wouldn’t be very productive. He didn’t get a return, but in the next game against the Wisconsin Badgers,  he had a 23-yard kickoff return at Camp Randall. This was definitely a sign that he could have an expanded role as a specialist. However, he regressed in the last game of the season at Memorial Stadium. Against the Iowa Hawkeyes, he didn’t have a return.  But as a sophomore in 2024, he has a much higher ceiling under Ed Foley as an older player. Does this mean he can finally be consistent in that area? With spring football just around the corner, it’s possible that he could make a huge jump.

 

Nebraska's 2024 running back room
Photo courtesy:  Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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