For the second time in as many days, Nebraska added an experienced offensive player from the NCAA's transfer portal.
On Tuesday, the Huskers landed a verbal commitment from former USC running back Markese Stepp.
Stepp spent three seasons at USC, redshirting in 2018 before seeing consistent playing time the past two years.
In 2020, he rushed 45 times for 165 yards and tied for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns. USC’s overall production in the run game dropped to 3.2 yards per carry from 3.9 in 2019 under second-year offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, who runs the Air Raid offense that prioritizes passing.
Stepp was part of a three-man rotation at running back that split carries roughly evenly, and each averaged between 3.7 yards per carry (Stepp) and 4.6. The Trojans played only six games this fall due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and the Pac-12’s shortened season. USC elected not to play in a bowl game after a 5-1 regular season.
In 2019, Stepp had 48 rushes for 307 yards (6.4 per carry) and three scores.
Stepp, from Indianapolis, was considered a four-star prospect out of high school. Several other schools recruited Stepp this fall and at one point Wisconsin was considered perhaps the favorite to land his commitment.
Stepp is listed at 6 feet and 235 pounds, and is a powerful runner. His longest rush in three collegiate seasons was a 35-yarder last year against Washington.
He should have three seasons of eligibility remaining and is expected to be in Lincoln for the upcoming semester. A redshirt sophomore in 2020, Stepp is not a graduate transfer. The NCAA this week delayed a vote on a blanket one-time free transfer rule, meaning Stepp will need a waiver in order to be immediately eligible for Nebraska in 2021. He's certainly not alone. The NCAA is going to be faced with a wave of transfers who expected the one-year rule to pass in January.
Stepp's commitment comes one day after the Huskers picked up a verbal pledge from Montana graduate transfer wide receiver Samore Toure. On Monday, NU also lost its top offensive playmaker when Wan'Dale Robinson announced he was transferring from the program.
Stepp and Toure make 23 members of the 2021 recruiting class, meaning the Huskers have two scholarships remaining this offseason. They are still in the picture for at least one high school recruit (Omaha Westside cornerback Avante Dickerson, who is verbally committed to Minnesota but did not sign in December), but will likely look for at least one more transfer sometime between now and the summer.
Nebraska figured to be in the market for running back help, particularly if senior Dedrick Mills decided not to return for an extra year. Sure enough, Mills on Tuesday afternoon announced that he was declaring for the NFL Draft. He turned 24 in December and has already been a college back for five years, so his return has seemed unlikely all along.
Clearly, the Huskers felt the need to recruit transfer backs and were more than ready to accept a commitment from Stepp.
Check back for updates to this story.
Nebraska football scholarship chart
|Position||2021 Freshman||2020 Freshman||RS Freshman||Sophomore||Junior||Senior|
|QB (4)||Heinrich Haarberg||Logan Smothers||Luke McCaffrey*||Adrian Martinez|
|RB (6)||Gabe Ervin||Sevion Morrison||Rahmir Johnson*||Markese Stepp*^|
|Marvin Scott III||Ronald Thompkins*|
|TE (6)||Thomas Fidone||Austin Allen*|
|James Carnie||Travis Vokolek*|
|AJ Rollins||Kurt Rafdal*|
|WR (11)||Latrell Neville||Zavier Betts||Chris Hickman*||Kade Warner*||Samori Toure*^|
|Shawn Hardy||Alante Brown||De'Mariyon Houston*||Omar Manning*|
|Kamonte Grimes||Will Nixon||Jamie Nance*|
|T (8)||Teddy Prochazka||Turner Corcoran||Bryce Benhart*||Broc Bando*|
|Branson Yager||Alex Conn||Brant Banks*|
|G (5)||Henry Lutovsky||Ethan Piper*||Trent Hixson*|
|Michael Lynn*||Matt Sichterman*|
|C (2)||Cameron Jurgens*|
|DE (10)||Ru'Quan Buckley||Ty Robinson*||Tate Wildeman*||Deontre Thomas*||Ben Stille*|
|Jailen Weaver||Mosai Newsom*||Casey Rogers*||Chris Walker*|
|DT (4)||Nash Hutmacher||Damion Daniels*|
|Marquis Black||Jordon Riley|
|OLB (11)||Wynden Ho'ohuli||Blaise Gunnerson||Javin Wright*||Garrett Nelson||Caleb Tannor||JoJo Domann*|
|Jimari Butler||Niko Cooper*||Pheldarius Payne|
|David Alston*||Damian Jackson*|
|ILB (10)||Randolph Kpai||Nick Henrich*||Luke Reimer||Eteva Mauga-Clements||Will Honas*|
|Mikai Gbayor||Garrett Snodgrass*||Chris Kolarevic*^|
|Seth Malcom||Jackson Hannah*|
|S (6)||Koby Bretz||Isaac Gifford||Myles Farmer*||Marquel Dismuke*|
|Noa Pola-Gates*||Deontai Williams*|
|CB (7)||Marques Buford||Tamon Lynum||Braxton Clark*||Cam Taylor-Britt|
|Malik Williams||Quinton Newsome|
|ST (1)||Daniel Cerni (P)|
|*Player has used redshirt|
|Note: 2021 & 2020 have 5 years eligibility|