The Nebraska Cornhuskers are still recruiting at a full pace as they are putting the finishing touches on a promising crop of recruits. Who would have guessed that the most impactful recruit would be a 20-year-old student already enrolled at the school?
Okay, he is also a current member of the team, not just a gun-slinging quarterback found cleaning tables in the cafeteria or a massive offensive lineman to replace departing senior Spencer Long, who was seen quietly studying on campus in the library. The biggest recruit is junior I-back Ameer Abdullah.
That’s right Huskers Nation, you are well aware that not all of the recruiting is done at high schools, as junior college transfer have made a great impact on the Huskers football program and continue to do so today. Currently, sophomore defensive linemen Randy Gregory is making a huge impact was arguably the Huskers’ most valuable defensive player in 2013. Gregory has been recognized as the national sophomore Defensive Player of the Year.
The Huskers did not acquire Gregory straight out of Hamilton Southeast High School. Instead, he spent a year on the roster at Arizona Western Community College. Recruiting can also be done within the program and was done so very effectively as Abdullah was convinced to provide his services to the team for one more season.
What the senior-to-be brings to the Cornhuskers is nearly incalculable. Excluding potential injuries, Abdullah could become the first Husker in history to rush for 1000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Also, 1600-plus rushing yards and nearly 2000 yards in total offense are stats that will be talked about for a long time, and the young man should be very proud of those accomplishments.
Perhaps what head coach Bo Pelini is more interested in is the leadership he will bring to this squad.
Abdullah missed out on the experience of playing alongside current Washington Redskins player and former Cornhusker Roy Helu, but was fortunate enough to learn from former Husker and current Cincinnati Bengals player Rex Burkehead.
Burkhead’s leadership and character at Nebraska are nearly legendary following the national attention the program received because of his relationship with a young cancer survivor. Abdullah, like Burkhead, has been a person of high character in his time in Lincoln, even referencing his relationship with God when he made his decision to return for a senior season.
Abdullah has also been an extremely hard worker off the field as a history student and in the weight room. He is only the fourth Huskers player to be named Lifter of the Year in consecutive years. Abdullah joins a list that includes Burkhead and current Detroit Lions player Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Abdullah’s dedication to the weight room could be key this offseason as the once-legendary Nebraska weight room was criticized at times this season as a potential reason for the numerous injuries that the Huskers suffered. Having a leader like Abdullah in the weight room will be paramount for the development of young players.
Finally, what Abdullah offers is an example to his teammates. He has great talent, but he supplements it with hard work. This is the type of player that teams hate to lose. NFL teams have the luxury of signing a player like Ray Lewis to extended deals. In college football, you only get these leaders for a short period, and the Huskers retaining their leader for one more season is an amazing advantage.