Gabe Ervin's rapid rise continues in push for No. 1 RB
It’s one thing for a freshman running back to get praise from offensive coaches, but it’s an entirely different level of compliment when it comes from teammates trying to tackle him every day in practice.
The talk surrounding Nebraska newcomer Gabe Ervin started early in the spring, when the early enrollee out of Buford, Ga., caught everyone’s attention after his first few practices as a Husker.
That buzz hasn’t slowed down at all with NU now a week into fall camp, as senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann’s comments on his “The Beat” podcast indicate.
“That dude is electric,” Domann said. “He’s like a gazelle when he’s got the ball. He shows a lot of natural promise. He works hard, and he’s got the right mindset.
“He came in early, so I had the pleasure of doing some yoga with him and getting to know him this spring, and he’s a really solid dude. I’m really excited to see him tote the rock.”
A 2020 Sports Illustrated All-America candidate, Ervin ran for more than 1,000 yards as a senior to help lead Buford to the Class 6A state championship.
The 6-foot, 215-pounder was rated the nation’s No. 23 in the 2020 class and chose Nebraska over 24 other Power Five offers. It only took him a few months to out his name right in the thick of the Huskers wide-open running back competition going into this season.
“He’s got talent, he can run, he can catch the ball, he’s smart, he loves the game of football, but he is a freshman,” running backs coach Ryan Held told the Husker Sports Network. “So we’ve got to make sure we’re on him on everything that he does.”
“Gabe Ervin has made big steps, which we expected because he’s a freshman,” offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said. “The biggest steps you make as a freshman is from spring to fall. He’s doing some really good things.”
Head coach Scott Frost said going into fall camp that he wanted to make key personnel decisions earlier than he had in the past, including establishing a “bell cow” feature back well before the season opener at Illinois on Aug. 28.
As hot of a start that Ervin’s had, he still has plenty of work to do to separate himself in a crowded running back room. USC transfer Markese Stepp, who missed nearly all spring with a foot injury, is back to almost 100 percent, per Lubick.
Then there’s Marvin Scott, the team’s most experienced returning running back from last season (24 carries, 62 yards), and Sevion Morrison, who sat out last season but has had a strong spring and fall.
Lubick said Rahmir Johnson was having maybe his best fall camp as a Husker, and Jaquez Yant went from walk-on to scholarship player with how well he practiced this spring.
“I think we’ve got a ton of talent in that room, but I don’t want it to be by committee, ideally,” Frost said. “I want to have a main guy and a backup or two that are going to share the bulk of the carries. It’s yet to be determined who those guys are.
“Those guys know at that spot and a few others that the competition is going to start on Day 1, and we’re going to try to figure out who the main horse is.”