Life in the Red: Walk-on Iowa transfer Ezra Miller a name to know in the Husker OL room

One of the hallmarks of spring football is that it typically includes a lot of names.

Players to watch, players who might bounce back from injury, players who could emerge or who are making a favorable first impression.

Here’s one to keep in your back pocket as it pertains to the Nebraska offensive line in 2021: Ezra Miller.

Miller came up twice this week, first when coach Scott Frost said he’s in a big mix of players pushing for time and then again Wednesday when offensive line coach Greg Austin said Miller’s been taking repetitions at both guard and tackle.

So, a brief refresher on Miller and his path to Nebraska.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder was a four-star recruit out of Ridge View High in Holstein, Iowa, when he signed with Iowa as part of the Hawkeyes’ 2019 class. Miller spent his freshman season there and didn’t appear in a game, then decided to leave football.

When he decided he wanted another shot at playing last summer, he explained that he stepped away from the game to try to work on his mental health after suffering from depression in the wake of several traumatic events in his life.

He decided to walk on at Nebraska, where he sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules and acclimated to the program.

“He’s an athletic kid, highly touted recruit coming out of high school,” Austin said this week. “You never know why a guy comes or transfers, but Ezra has been awesome since he’s been here. He’s been a hard worker. He’s athletic and he’s coachable. There’s some things he’s rough around the edges on that we really have to hone in, in terms of his technique, but nevertheless, good player. I expect some big things out of him.”

Nebraska has several options as it works to find the best five up front. If Ethan Piper continues to man the left guard spot, that would on the surface leave just the right guard job truly up for the taking. But it almost always takes more than five offensive linemen to get through a season, so the position versatility will only help Miller as he competes with the likes of fellow walk-on transfer Nouredin Nouili and others such as Brant Banks, Trent Hixson, Jimmy Fritzsche, Broc Bando and Matt Sichterman.

“I like Ezra a lot. He’s a hard-working kid and he’s got a lot of talent,” center Cam Jurgens said Monday. “He’s going to be getting a lot of reps and I’m kind of excited to see how he can progress, because he’s gotten a lot better since he’s been here, and we’re all kind of excited to see where he can go. He’s a good kid.”