Bruce Thorson, USA Today Sports

Nebraska True Freshman Running Back Tre Bryant Is Earning More Looks

Nebraska true freshman running back Tre Bryant appears to have taken over the No. 2 running back spot - in the process earning the staff's trust.

After spot work early in the season, it appears Nebraska true freshman running back Tre Bryant is working his way up the depth chart and has solidified himself as the Huskers No. 2 option.

Bryant rushed 13 times for 56 yards against Maryland over the weekend, this after taking a 35-yard screen pass to the end zone against Minnesota in week 11.

“I think Tre Bryant has really elevated while Devine (Ozigbo) has been hurt,” said head coach Mike Riley. “And at this moment he certainly is ahead as far as getting him ready to play in the games. We certainly want to give Devine an opportunity to be in the games and rotate in there. We’ll have to see how this week goes.”

Riley said Nebraska looks for running backs who don’t have to be subbed for. Players who can run, catch a ball out of the backfield and pass protect.

“That can trump it,” said Riley. “If we can’t put him in the game and he’s pretty versatile because he’s going to blow a protection or doesn’t know what he’s doing, then it’s a little more difficult to put him in.

“When he (Bryant) goes in the game, he’s been productive. He makes some plays, and you can put him in and there’s a flow to it where it’s not disrupted because the guy’s a rookie and he doesn’t know what to do or you know, he’s not making any plays, dropping the ball, all that stuff. So that’s how he’s done it. You gain the confidence of your team and the coaches, and you play more.”

After a strong showing against USC in the bowl game last season and a 103 yards against Fresno State in the Huskers opener, sophomore Devine Ozigbo looked destined for a big season. Now 11 games in, Ozigbo has only rushed for 346 yards while battling injuries. 

“I thought late last week that Devine [Ozigbo] looked as comfortable and healthy as I’ve seen him in a long time,” said Riley. “So he’s definitely closer. Whether or not he’s fully healthy, I’m not sure. But he continues to look better.” 

With senior running back Terrell Newby running the football he has this season and Bryant making the most of his opportunities, carries might be tough to snag for Ozigbo – even if healthy.

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