Nebraska true freshman running back Gabe Ervin had surgery Tuesday and will miss the rest of the season, running backs coach Ryan Held said after practice Tuesday.
Held said Ervin, the Huskers' first true freshman running back to start a season opener, is doing “good” after surgery and receiving support from teammates. He finishes the season with 37 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Ervin got hurt on a second-half run against Oklahoma, pulling at his right knee as soon as he hit the turf. Coach Scott Frost said Monday that it was a patellar tendon injury.
In Ervin’s absence, Rahmir Johnson, Markese Stepp, Sevion Morrison and Jaquez Yant appear next in line.
Held said Yant has improved his stock as he’s lost weight and kept to a diet plan prescribed by NU nutrition director Dave Ellis.
Johnson, buried on the depth chart before the season, took a difficult meeting with Held to heart and improved.
“Your back’s against the wall and you either figure it out or you’ll get passed," Held said, "and he just kept practicing every day, coming to work, grading out really well in practice, and he earned the opportunity. He did a lot of really good things out there on Saturday when we graded it. Wasn’t perfect — would have liked to have a couple plays back — but he did a good job.”
Johnson has a good knowledge of the offense, Held said, and started to use his speed in practice — instead of gliding as a runner.
He was also the second-best pass blocker besides Ervin, who had earned his starting spot in part because of his work in protection schemes. Held said Ervin had an impressive knockdown block in the Buffalo game.