Countdown to La. Tech - Running Back

You know what's wrong with preview guides? They come out too early. I know that in July, you are thanking the college football Gods, but right about now, all of those are about worthless. Harrison Beck – gone, Leon Jackson – gone – Tyrell Spain and Isaiah Fluellen moving to CB. In our countdown, we'll give you and up-to-date preview as we get you ready for the season.

There's probably not a single preview guide out there that had Leon Jackson no longer part of the Huskers. Well, I suppose there could have been, if it had came out right after he left the first time. But with him gone and Kenny Wilson in the fold, the running back picture looks vastly different.

Or does it?

If we flashback to spring, the biggest question coming out of that was Marlon Lucky. He wasn't very physical, seemingly ran tentative and out of the ashes Cody Glenn emerged as the clear leader, at least to us.

Could Lucky regain that momentum he seemed to have going into the spring, so the fall could be a rebirth of sorts?

He did just that, putting on seven pounds of muscle over the summer, getting back to where he was before the spring and all reports have had him more like the Lucky, who notched two double-digit yard runs against Colorado, the first back to do that to that particular defense in weeks. It was the same Marlon Lucky, who took back a kickoff for a touchdown against Kansas, which was unfortunately called back.

What does that mean?

It means that Nebraska now has back the weapon they wanted last year, but couldn't realize, because neither Lucky or Glenn could handle the pass protection duties effectively enough to keep them on the field. It will be a Marlon Lucky that ala Reggie Bush, can line up in the backfield or just as easily split out wide as a receiver.

You can work him in the slot, out of the4 "I"-formation or simply in one-back sets. He's got that kind of versatility.

Don't think that Lucky's bulking up gives him an "N" to the starting spot, though.

What Cody Glenn managed to do during the spring hasn't diminished. His horrific car crash and the subsequent scratch on one of his knees he received from it, has only fueled his invincible fire. And what he took out of the spring was the confidence in knowing that, while he will certainly be pigeonholed as a short yardage back, he's got the quickness and feet to bounce it outside and a surprisingly good burst, making him pretty effective on the outside of the tackles.

Glenn showed that he can be at times, as nimble as he physical, as quick as he is tough and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that this kid can be relied upon throughout the entire game.

That brings us to Brandon Jackson, who after having endured two separate shoulder injuries, both requiring surgery and painful amounts of rehab, has finally made it back into the fold.

That's all good for the Husker backfield as Jackson is probably the quickest back, sporting the lowest center of gravity, and as quick as Lucky is in changing direction, the quickest feet in the backfield probably belong to B.J.

Coming out of Mississippi, there was no question about Brandon's potential, though, he didn't come to Lincoln with all the stars of his counterparts at the position. But to watch his film and what he's done at Nebraska when healthy, this is a kid that can kill a team in just about anyway you can imagine.

He's super quick bouncing plays to the outside, but is very physical and uses that to hit the hole going up the middle with astounding acceleration. Once Jackson starts, it's about five steps into it and he's at full speed. Taking the kid on from the front isn't advisable once he's got his head of steam going.

Brandon knows the offense, is expectedly mature and he's just needing a legit shot. He'll get that this year.

I wouldn't call Kenny Wilson the X-Factor, because that might imply that the other backs don't have what Wilson can bring to the table. They do, but Kenny could be the best all-around package.

Out of Liberal high school in Liberal, Kansas, Wilson was as highly touted as most of the backs on the team. Coming out of Butler Junior College, you could make an argument that he only improved his stock. What ultimately came out was a kid, who always had the ability, certainly had the speed, but built himself up to be not just athletic, but ferociously hard to bring down.

Brandon Jackson

Marlon Lucky

Cody Glenn

Kenny Wilson

What surprised most of his teammates over the summer was how fast he was able to acclimate to the Dave Kennedy workouts. That's saying something as most simply cringe when the strength and conditioning coaches' name is even mentioned.

The surprises continued even into fall training camp as his teammates voiced surprise at just how fast he was picking things up. He was getting the plays down, knew his assignments and yes, the guy could even block.

With even his own teammates showing surprise, but in a good way, one has to think that Wilson, a young man who should have been projected as a marginal influence early, due to not knowing so many things, could be a much larger factor, much earlier than previously anticipated.

If you read that breakdown, you are probably thinking this sounds like some group of super backs. I won't go that, far, but there is no way to doubt the potential of each. The biggest problem with this group isn't what they can potentially do, but what running back coach Randy Jordan is going to do in deciding who hits the field and when.

After spring I had thought that Cody Glenn separated himself from the rest of the pack and that if any one back could be seen as THE back, it was him. Since that time, it hasn't been Glenn dropping off, but everyone else picking up their game, thereby closing the overall gap.

That leaves a convoluted mess at the position, but it's a mess of talent, speed, size and vision. Any coach would love to clean up something like that.

I have never been a fun of the running back by committee, but this is in my mind one of the better committees around.

You have a third and short – you have at least two backs that fit the bill. You have a third and long – again, at least two backs, who could be capable there. You have goal line, second and five, one-back, I-back – you name it, if there is a situation or down and distance, Jordan has a back that can get the job done.

There isn't probably one formula that fits these backs, because you can mix and match and come up with something that works. They all have many strengths, few weaknesses and the only thing that will probably separate them is their mental acuity at operation within the offense and, yes, the ability to read and pick up the blitz.

There's probably not one other position, where you can't at least get a good sense of who is number one, two, three, etc. But with running back, that's most definitely the case. Call it an embarrassment of riches for the Huskers.

Even if someone were to take bets right now on just which running back would take the first snap of the game, I don't honestly know who the favorite would be. That's good and that means if someone isn't getting it done, no problem, because there's another stud in the stable, who can probably fill the bill.

So, our depth chart for this position is unique:

1 – Marlon Lucky
1-A – Cody Glenn
1-B – Brandon Jackson
1-C – Kenny Wilson

Next up: Wide Receiver

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