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Nebraska Cornhuskers 2016 Spring Practice Positional Preview: Running Backs

Terrell Newby

Terrell Newby

Nobody expected transitioning from the Ameer Abdullah era to be easy and it most certainly wasn’t. Nebraska worked with what it had, and fortunately quarterback Tommy Armstrong had some skilled feet to take some of the burden off of the backs. However, he was a mere 44 yards behind No. 2 on the rushing list. 2016 looks to offer plenty of uncertainty in the first few games as well.

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2015 Summary

Terrell Newby took the baton as the feature back early on, but shared the spotlight with bruiser Imani Cross.

Eventually, fullback Andy Janovich got into the mix and became an intricate part of the Mike Riley offense. He eventually chalked up the second-longest touchdown score by a fullback in Nebraska’s loss to Wisconsin.

A glimpse into the future came later in the year as true freshman Devine Ozigbo was worked into the lineup. By the time the Huskers’ bowl game came around, Ozigbo looked like he had not only adapted to the speed of the college game, but that he could contend for even more playing time in 2016.

Key Departures: Imani Cross

Key Returners for 2016: Terrell Newby (Sr.), Adam Taylor (Jr.), Mikale Wilbon (So.), Devine Ozigbo (So.)

2016 Outlook

The starting role appears to be a tossup between Newby and Ozigbo since they both have actual experience. Newby’s had difficulty getting extra yards as he often tries to elude defenders by juking far more than necessary. This usually leads to losing a yard or two.

On the other hand, Ozigbo is more of a straightforward back that lets physics do the talking.

Wilbon and Taylor seem to be the odd men out. The idea that one of them transfers after spring ball concludes isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but both could be used efficiently just the same.

It’s conceivable that Nebraska fans see another We-Back situation with Newby and Ozigbo sharing carries while Wilbon comes in to spell them or give another option for a ball carrier. Taylor has the size and speed that Janovich did offering a beast out of the backfield from the fullback position.

This way, all four backs play a role, no one leaves and everybody’s happy. Of course, that’s just one scenario.

Position Grade for 2016: C

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter (@eightlaces), Periscope (eightlaces) and like his Facebook page.