Nebraska football made another impact addition in the transfer portal and here are three thoughts on running back Dante Dowdell.
Matt Rhule and Nebraska football need to make sure it translates to wins on the field next season, but so far, the Huskers are having a winning offseason.
It all started by signing five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola during the Early Signing Period and it has continued for the Huskers who landed former Texas wide receiver Isaiah Neyor on Friday.
That was a big move, but landing the commitment of former running back Dante Dowdell, as Nebraska football did on Saturday, could be a game-changer for the Huskers and filled the biggest need left on the roster.
Nebraska needed a bell cow and Dowdell could be it. Here are three thoughts on his commitment.
A true blue-chip running back
This isn’t a transfer up from the Group of Five or the FCS, which to be fair, can be very effective at times. Dowdell is coming from Oregon and was highly recruited coming out of high school. He only got 17 carries last season but averaged more than five yards per attempt.
Coming out of high school, he was ranked No. 194 overall according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. He was also a top-10 running back according to all of the recruiting services.
We have talked about the sting of losing Kewan Lacy to Alabama. But this essentially fills that void, at least from a talent perspective. Dowdell could be an All-Big Ten caliber running back and if the Ducks weren’t so loaded, and if they didn’t burn his redshirt for 17 carries, he would probably still be there.
A perfect fit for Nebraska football
This seemed like a perfect marriage from the start. Dowdell is what you would call a downhill runner and Nebraska wants to have a downhill running attack. The Huskers are a team that still uses a fullback and that’s ideal with a dude like Dowdell, who is a powerful and decisive runner.
Emmett Johnson played well down the stretch last season and Gabe Ervin also averaged more than five yards per attempt before he got hurt. Dowdell is the most talented of the bunch though and with an offensive line that returns all five starters, plus key depth pieces, for a team that nearly led the Big Ten rushing, a 1,000-yard season is realistic.
Dowdell feels like a dude who can carry the ball 15-20 times per game and survive a season in the Big Ten which isn’t easy. But with a true freshman starting quarterback, Nebraska will need to lean on the running game and that will be much easier with Dowdell to hand the ball to.
Nebraska has a stable now
The Big Ten Conference is an absolute grind and with the expansion to 18 teams, it’s not going to get any easier. Hell, Northwestern and Rutgers — two of the lower-tier programs won a combined 15 games this season. They also won bowl games.
Maryland, Illinois, heck even Indiana during the COVID year before it all fell apart, have put together strong runs in recent seasons. Every team in the Big Ten has the resources to succeed and every Saturday is going to be a war.
As it stood, Nebraska didn’t have the running back depth needed to survive. The Huskers barely did last season and were pretty much down to Johnson by the end of the season. Johnson performed well and averaged four yards per carry down the stretch.
He should still have a role this season too. Gabe Ervin too. If Nebraska wants to run the ball the way Matt Rhule talks about running the ball, they are going to need all three of those dudes. Rahmir Johnson too.
But with one addition, although it’s a big one, the running back room went from an unknown to a strength in my opinion. Dowdell is that good and he’ll be starting Week 1 against UTEP right next to Dylan Raiola.
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