Davis wins starting I-back job at Nebraska

Updated: August 26, 2003, 4:40 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Josh Davis was so frustrated by his lack of playing time at I-back last season that he said if he had it to do over again, he probably wouldn't have chosen to go to Nebraska.

After being named starting I-back for Saturday's opener against Oklahoma State, it sounded as if there were no other place Davis would rather be.

"We've had a lot of great I-backs since I've been here, and it's been a real competitive spot," Davis said Tuesday at the team's weekly news conference. "Just to be number one at a school like this, as prestigious as it is, is a real honor."

Davis beat out sophomores David Horne and Cory Ross.

Now the senior from Loveland, Colo., follows in the footsteps of his father, Tony, who was a starting I-back and fullback for the Huskers from 1973 to '75. Tony Davis is No. 19 on the school's all-time rushing chart with 2,153 yards and 17 touchdowns.

After last season, Horne had appeared to be the heir apparent to the graduated Dahrran Diedrick. As a true freshman last year, Horne was Diedrick's top backup after shedding his redshirt at midseason.

Horne's ascension on the depth chart over backs who had been in the program for years rather than months drew the ire of Davis. Davis vented publicly that he and other older backs hadn't been given a fair shot to show what they could do.

Davis still was listed behind Horne on the depth chart after spring practice. But new running backs coach Tim Albin told him nothing would be decided until the week of the first game.

"Albin said we were going to play the best players and that you can forget everything that happened in the past," Davis said.

Albin said the competition between Davis, Horne and Ross was the closest race at a position he had seen in his 14 years of coaching.

"Every practice, every rep counted," Albin said. "Josh won out, not because he's a senior and not because his dad played here. It's because of what he has accomplished day in and day out this fall."

The Oklahoma State game will be his second official start. He was on the field for the first play against Missouri last season when the Huskers came out in a double-wing formation.

Davis ran 25 times for 162 yards as a junior. He scored on a 12-yard run against Kansas and had a career-long 28-yard run against Utah State, when he finished with a career-best 51 yards on seven carries. Davis was the top receiver among running backs, catching 10 balls for 58 yards.

Davis already has made his mark as a kick returner. He holds school records for kick return yards in a game, season and career.

He'll continue in that role again this season, and he'll also run back punts.

"There aren't too many guys around the country that you see play three different positions," Davis said. "If coaches feel you're the best person for that position, you need to take it seriously and do what you can to help your team win."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index