football Edit

Fall Camp Preview: Running back

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As things get close to the start of fall camp
HuskerOnline.com will spend the next two weeks breaking down the
different
positions groups and biggest storylines heading into the 2015 season.
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We continue our breakdowns by looking at the running back position. There arguably aren't bigger shoes to fill on the entire roster than those of do-it-all star Ameer Abdullah, and it's unlikely that any one member of Nebraska's current backfield will be able to replace Abdullah's production on his own. However, the unit has a chance to pick up where it left off via an effort by committee.

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size="+2">FALL CAMP PREVIEW - RUNNING BACK
style="padding: 4px; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235); font-size: 8.5pt; text-transform: uppercase; font-weight: bold;">WHAT
WE KNOW - The depth is there
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align="right">For the first time in more than a decade, there is no player locked in to be the clear No. 1 feature back going into the 2015 season. Since Corey Ross emerged as the starter back in 2004, the Huskers have had an enviable luxury of being able to plug in one workhorse back after another.
That won't be the case this year, though, as none of NU's returning backs - senior Imani Cross, junior Terrell Newby or sophomore Adam Taylor - have done enough to prove themselves ready to take over as the lead guy. The good news, though, is all three have shown the potential to make a pretty formidable three-man rotation at the position.
If a starter were to be named today, it would likely be Newby, who arguably had the best spring of the group and had a strong early showing as the No. 1 back for the Red team in the spring game. But Cross is clearly the most experienced player in the unit, and his physicality as a runner should give him plenty of opportunities this season.
Taylor is the wildcard of the three, as he missed all last season with a foot injury he suffered in fall camp but might be the most versatile of the trio because of his combination of size, strength and ability to be a threat on the perimeter, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. There's also redshirt freshman Mikale Wilbon, who impressed last year on the scout team and showed flashes of his potential during spring ball, and walk-ons Jordan Nelson and Graham Nabity both looked capable this spring.
Regardless of which player emerges as the starter by the time the season opener rolls around, it's safe to say Nebraska's running game will be handled as a group effort by three or even four backs as the season rolls along, which isn't necessarily a bad thing by any means.

 

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WE WANT TO KNOW - Who will be the go-to guy?
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Each one of Nebraska's running backs brings something unique to the table, but the biggest question facing the position group is who will be the guy the Huskers turn to in pivotal situations when the game is on the line. The offense has hitched its wagon to Abdullah and the other workhorse backs countless times over the years when it needs a big play or to grind out the clock late in games. Who will NU turn to for that role this year?
It will likely be something that won't be truly known until one of the running backs shows that clutch ability during games, as it's an intangible that is almost impossible to measured during practice alone. With the blend of talents and abilities the Huskers have at the position, though, they at least appear to have some candidates up to the task of becoming that go-to guy.
 

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WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING - How will they develop?
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align="right">One of the more intriguing storylines for Nebraska during fall camp and over the course of the season will be watching how each one of its running backs grow both as players and within the new offensive system under head coach Mike Riley.
Newby has already made a noticeable jump from where he was at the end of last season to the spring game, and he may have grown as much as or even more than any other back during the offseason. This is also Cross' final season as a Husker, to the motivation for him to make his senior year his best yet should be soaring. Taylor had his season before it even began last season, and he'll be looking to pick up where he left off and live up to the hype he had coming out of high school as a four-star prospect.
Needless to say, how the Huskers' running back group looks today should look completely different as they continue to add more and more experience under their belts.
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CAMP NEWCOMERS
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align="right">The only scholarship newcomer joining the running backs room this fall is true freshman Devine Ozigbo, a former three-star prospect from Sachse, Texas, who was ranked the No. 50 back in the country last year.
Because of the depth and competition already present in NU's backfield right now, it's hard to see Ozigbo make an immediate jump into the rotation in 2015. But his skillset seems to blend perfectly into what NU's new coaching staff wants in a running back, so it might only be a matter of time before Ozigbo makes his presence felt for the Huskers.
 

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CAMP PREDICTION
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Again, at this point it looks like Newby would get the nod as the starter if the season were to start today. But the rotation is far from settled, and the competition should continued to be as heated as ever on through fall camp. It probably won't matter much who earns the No. 1 spot, because each one of NU's top three or even four running backs should get plenty of work this season.
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fall camp depth chart
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- Terrell Newby - Junior
2 - Imani Cross - Senior
OR
Adam Taylor - Redshirt sophomore
4 - Mikale Wilbon - Redshirt freshman
 
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