Nebraska running backs coach E.J. Barthel met with members of the media following Tuesday's spring practice.
Barthel spoke about his vision for the DNA of Nebraska running backs.
"Whenever we recruit or whenever we coach, we are looking for guys with the right mentality," Barthel said. "I think the running back position starts with mentality. I am always going to believe that. When you see our running backs, I want us to have a certain DNA that you know exactly what you are going to get when you see our guys play. I think that is what Coach Rhule and the whole team envision as well. All the Nebraska football players, when we touch that field, he wants everyone and ourselves to know the brand."
Barthel said the Husker running backs are still in a developmental phase but are showing progress.
"I know we have some guys that have some playing experience but I think we are still really in the development phase right now," he said. "I think the important part is we are having a little success at practice but the reality is we have a lot of work to do from the developmental standpoint. We are going to dissect the whole process with these guys. It starts with eye development, understanding the run game, understanding the blocking schemes and being really detailed.
"I think the key to the position is being a really detail-oriented player based upon protection, understanding front structure and where your eyes are or where the ball is supposed to enter. It is a lot of teaching. It is a lot of information that they have to process so we are still in the development phase but overall as a group I think we are pretty good right now with our progression."
Barthel went on to explain the foundation the coaches are trying to lay throughout spring football.
"It is kind of interesting because you have some guys that have some playing experience but nobody really has a significant amount of playing experience," he said. "The reality is mentally I would not say they are all experienced running backs as far as playing full seasons. Ajay (Allen) played a little bit last year, Gabe (Ervin Jr.) coming back from an injury, Rahmir (Johnson) did not see a lot of action last year, AG (Anthony Grant) that is really the first time in his career that he got that many reps and that many carries so the reality is a lot of these guys still have not developed as far as the full development process. I am treating them as if they are young players. We are starting from the bottom and building a foundation. That is the key. I want to make sure we get through spring and head into camp with a great foundation."
While Barthel works to develop his group, he said the most important thing is to show players you care about them.
"I am pretty intense as you can tell at practice," he said. "All of us have a high standard of effort with what we expect from our guys. I am pretty intense at practice, and I know that. The No. 1 thing is showing how much we care about them off the field as well. That was our priority this offseason, making sure they understand that we are here for their development. The friendships will come naturally but if they understand that we care about their well-being, then they will take the hard coaching. It is really a learning process to understand, 'Why is coach getting on me so hard on this deal.' When he knows I care about his development, I think that is important."
The Huskers will continue their spring practice on Saturday. The annual Red-White Spring Game presented by FNBO is set for April 22, at 1 p.m. (CT). Tickets for the Spring Game can be purchased on or by calling 1-800-8-BIG RED.