LINCOLN — Dedrick Mills doesn’t spend a lot of time on social media, and his Twitter account is relatively quiet. But, yes, he read the speculation that he wouldn’t academically qualify to play for Nebraska.
“It was very frustrating,” Mills said. “People just saying stuff on Facebook and Twitter, and they don’t know.”
But the 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back had a plan all along. He expected to get the grades necessary to be admitted to NU, and Tuesday that became official. He’ll arrive at Nebraska on Wednesday.
And even if Mills expected it, he couldn’t deny the satisfaction of the moment.
“I feel like a rocket ready to shoot through the roof,” he said.
Nebraska wouldn’t mind if Mills did just that.
He rushed for 1,358 yards and 19 touchdowns last season at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. The Huskers pursued him last summer and signed him in January because they need a power back to replace Devine Ozigbo. Mills, who rushed for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns at Georgia Tech in 2016, is the guy they’ll ask to fill that role immediately as a redshirt junior.
Another power back, incoming freshman Ronald Thompkins of Loganville, Georgia, may not be fully recovered from a knee injury suffered last fall. Backs like Jaylin Bradley, Brody Belt and Wyatt Mazour did not consistently separate themselves from the pack during spring practice. Another running back, Maurice Washington, was a limited participant this spring because he still has a legal issue in California to untangle this summer.
But there’s no more red tape for Mills. The two-year journey started when he was kicked off Georgia Tech’s team in August 2017 for positive drug tests. Last week he got the grades he needed to make it to Nebraska. NU had received the transcript by Saturday, and Mills was officially admitted on Tuesday.
Mills thanked running backs coach Ryan Held and outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt for their support and guidance during the last semester.
“If it wasn’t for Coach Held, I don’t know ...” Mills said, his voice trailing off. “He was there throughout the process.”
He understands expectations for him at NU are high.
“I’m ready to get to work,” he said.
Even with his two-year hiatus from major college football, he still has more rushing yards and touchdowns at the Power Five level than the rest of the NU backs combined. Ozigbo — who sparkled as a senior with 1,082 rushing yards — is gone, Tre Bryant retired because of chronic knee pain, Mikale Wilbon used up his eligibility and Greg Bell, who started NU’s first three games last season, transferred when Ozigbo usurped him. He’s now walking on at San Diego State.
Mills is the first of two junior college prospects expected to arrive this summer. Another, Highland (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Jahkeem Green, has to complete more coursework to qualify for NU.
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