LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said deciding to pull a redshirt off a player this late into the season is a tough one, but it’s what Nebraska did with Scout.com Top 100 prospect Jordan Stevenson over the weekend.
“He was definitely a proponent of it,” said Riley. “He probably would not have ever redshirted had he been healthy in camp and been practicing.”
The former four-star running back only returned kicks on Saturday against Wisconsin and currently is still just in that role according to running back coach Reggie Davis.
“When his opportunity comes, he will do some good things,” said Davis.
The question becomes when will that opportunity come. Stevenson was just playing scout team last week, which means he’s probably a few weeks away from making any sort of impact on the offense.
“He has worked hard in all areas of his life here, not just the football end of it, to get back,” said Riley. “To get back in shape. To get back with an opportunity to help. And since he really wanted to do it, and he has done those things as of late, we thought.
“The one thing we want to make sure is that we’re doing everything we can for this team, right now. Not about future teams, all that. So we thought he can give us, in different ways, and maybe some other parts of other special teams initially and maybe, maybe down the road, as he learns more of what we’re doing offensively, as a runner.”
Davis was asked about Stevenson and what the true freshman brings to the position.
“He’s an explosive athlete. We knew that about him,” said Davis. “It hasn’t changed.
He’s extremely quick. His foot quickness and acceleration is very good. Those two things really jump off the screen at you.”
A member of the San Francisco 49ers staff last season, Davis didn’t know about Stevenson’s abilities. When the former Texas prep became available, within minutes he had calls from multiple people telling him he needed to watch the film.
“A couple coaches called me that recruited him, guys on our staff, Coach Bray and Coach Stewart,” said Stevenson. “Then Coach Riley called me about him… When the head coach tells you to look at somebody, you look at them.
“After watching film around him, it became pretty apparent what all the hype was about.”