Mike Rozier had 668 carries for 4,780 yards rushing to rank No. 1 all-time at Nebraska. He averaged 7.16 yards per carry and scored 49 touchdowns.
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Rozier Excited to See Frost Revitalize Huskers

By Randy York

Somehow, in his own way, Mike Rozier found a light to salute Martin Luther King, Jr., at the same time he acknowledged Nebraska hiring Scott Frost as its new head football coach.

“Isn’t the time always right to do what’s right?” Rozier asked, recognizing a quote from the late King, a minister/social activist, who once described faith as taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Small wonder why Rozier gets so excited talking about hope instead of disappointment.

“Scott Frost will bring our older fans and our younger fans back to all of our football games,” Rozier told me. “He’s a young head coach who’s proved himself at the highest level.

“I think Scott will make a big difference, and I think that’s going to help Nebraska move back up to where we’re used to being,” Rozier said. “Like all Nebraska fans, I’m tired of losing, and I think our fan base is tired of losing, too.

“Wherever I go, I get the same question, whether I’m at the Heisman ceremony or meeting a fan in New Jersey,” Rozier said. “They all want to know when we’ll get back to being Nebraska again. People I don’t even know come up to me and ask ‘what happened to Nebraska? Or why can’t you win anymore?’”

Finally, last month, Rozier had an answer to any unfiltered questions that came his way. “Something big had to happen, and it did,” he said. “You gotta be rebuilt sooner or later, and we all turned to Scott Frost, the ringleader of our fifth and last national championship football team.

“Scott’s done a great job since he left Nebraska,” Rozier said. “He proved himself as a defensive player in the NFL, and with Scott as the chosen leader, we have some old-school guys who are trying to clean up the office. Nebraska is all about stability, and I’m certain that’ll happen wherever we’re headed."

“We (Heisman winners Rodgers, above right with Rozier, plus Eric Crouch) want to get back to having a program that comes in and shows up every day to prove why we’re a top 5 football team in the nation,” Rozier said.

“Nebraska is all about running the ball and having the greatest fans in the world watching us move up and down the field,” Rozier said. “You don’t want to change what put us on the map in the first place and helped us stay there decade after decade after decade.

“You just can’t do that to the team or all the fans who embraced what we were and still want to be,” Rozier said. “If it wasn’t broke, why try to fix it? To me, it all started when Frank Solich left after a 10-3 record. Programs like Nebraska can’t have coaches coming in and out and trying to change what made it great.

“Why change something that was still working?” Rozier asked.

“Frank was and still is a true father figure for me," Rozier said. "Coach Osborne hired Frank and I’m glad we’re getting one of our own again – someone who lived and breathed Nebraska football every day.

“People come here because they want to play for the best,” Rozier said. “They know our reputation as a powerhouse and they know why you shouldn’t change something that worked so well."

“With Frost (pictured above), we now have a young guy who played for Nebraska and helped us win our last national title,” Rozier pointed out. “Scott knows what it takes to win. He also knows we have not won a conference title since 1999. Everybody I know is happy that one of our own is coming home.

“It’s 2018, time to fix what we have to fix,” Rozier said. “Nothing against older coaches. Kids are just different now, so you have to know how to recruit the best out there. Scott Frost is the man that we’ve been waiting for. He’s young and knows the new era, but also knows and respects what we did two decades ago. Unlike a lot of schools, we’ve been there and done that five times, and we can do it again.”

Rozier emphasizes that he does not expect immediate perfection. “If you give people hope, they’ll come every week excited because they’ll know we have a fighting chance,” Rozier said. “Look at what Scott did at Central Florida.

“He changed the landscape of an up and coming school. If he did it for UCF, he can do it for Nebraska, too,” Frost said. “We still have the greatest fans in college football. That’s why I come back to Lincoln four times a year.

“We have great fans and great people. I love them all because they’re the most die-hard fans in the country,” Rozier said. “I know one thing for sure. It isn’t going to be easy to get back to where we need to be. But with everyone on the same page, our players, coaches and fans will help us get over the hump and we can all be proud again.”

Rozier made his No. 30 jersey famous after winning the Heisman Trophy 35 years ago. The New Jersey native won convincingly over quarterbacks Steve Young, Doug Flutie and teammate Turner Gill.

As a fullback in high school in Camden, N.J., Rozier rarely touched the ball. He went on to run the wishbone at Coffeeville, Kan., Junior College, where he ignored a heavy wave of new recruiters and kept his commitment to Nebraska after spending one year at Coffeeville.

I asked Tom Osborne for his thoughts on the overall impact that Rozier had on Nebraska football.

“Mike was a guy we thought was pretty good,” Osborne told me, “but he ran the wishbone in junior college, too, so he didn’t get as many carries as he would have had in the I-formation. He still attracted a lot of attention, and I respected the fact that Mike stuck with his commitment to Nebraska. He had all kinds of offers and some exceeded what would have covered books and fees. When he honored his commitment to come here, I was very impressed.

“Besides his great balance and good strength, Mike had that ability to make you miss with less movement than anybody I have ever seen. Some guys have to give you a couple jukes to make some pretty large sideways movement. Mike just had to give you a little jab step and leave people hanging.

“Mike’s power and quickness were a really good combination to make people miss. He had great speed. It wasn’t sprinter speed, but the speed he had was part of an excellent combination of skills.

“He had a lot of carries at Nebraska (668) and a lot of yards (4,780) to rank No. 1 all-time. He averaged over 7-yards a carry (7.16) and scored a lot of touchdowns (49).

“When you can hand the ball off to one guy and know he’s going to average more than seven yards per carry, it made it really easy to be a coach.

”We had a very good offensive line and with a running back like Mike and a catalyst like Turner Gill at quarterback, I think we averaged 52 points and 550 yards a game in 1983. Let’s put it this way. I don’t remember us having very many third-and-eights that year.”

Yes, Mike Rozier is excited to see Scott Frost & Company revitalize the Huskers. Whether the task is recruiting, winter conditioning or spring practice, all Rozier wants to see is whatever is best for the program, one step at a time.

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Send a comment to ryork@huskers.com (Please include city, state)

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