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Freshman Tre Bryant emerging as Huskers’ No. 2 tailback

November 23, 2016 GMT

LINCOLN -- Tre Bryant came to Nebraska with what many thought was the skill set to make an immediate impact in the Husker backfield.

Now, with the season reaching its climax, he’s finally flashing that potential.

Saturday’s win against Maryland marked Bryant’s most productive game of the season — 13 carries for 56 yards and a catch for another 13 yards.

While he didn’t find the end zone, it was clear Bryant had established himself as Nebraska’s No. 2 running back behind senior Terrell Newby and ahead of sophomore Devine Ozigbo.

“As you’re watching practice and you gain confidence in his overall game, you can put him in no matter what (the situation) is,” Nebraska coach Mike Riley said Monday. “I personally like backs like that; that you don’t have to sub for. They can go in and then you can throw him the ball, he can block or you can give him the ball.”

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Riley said Bryant has taken advantage of the opportunity created when Ozigbo injured his ankle against Illinois and needed time to work himself back to full health.

Ozigbo has just 14 carries for 42 yards since the Illinois game, and hasn’t played in either of Nebraska’s last two contests, and Riley said the sophomore was available against Maryland.

Bryant, meanwhile scored on a 35-yard catch-and-run against Minnesota and broke off a 22-yard run against Maryland that was Nebraska’s longest carry of the game.

Rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 7 running back coming out of high school in St. Louis, Bryant gives the Huskers a speedy option to spell Newby at running back.

While his season statistics are still modest — his 32 carries and 131 yards rank fourth on the team — his ability to help in pass protection and catch passes out of the backfield appear to give him an advantage over Nebraska’s other backs.

“At this moment he certainly is ahead as far as getting him ready to play in the games,” Riley said of Bryant. “We certainly want to give Devine an opportunity to be in the games and rotate in there. We’ve also tried to keep (Mikale) Wilbon going and active.

“Those four guys are all good players. But I would say right now, Newby and Bryant would be the first to play.”

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