LINCOLN — It appears junior Braylon Heard is leaving Nebraska for a program that will provide him with more opportunities to play running back.
Heard has asked for permission from NU to contact other schools and intends to transfer, a source close to the situation confirmed to The World-Herald on Tuesday afternoon. MyValleySports.com, a website in Youngstown, Ohio, first reported the news Monday night.
Multiple attempts to reach Heard were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday. Husker coach Bo Pelini hasn't commented since Tuesday morning, when he told The World-Herald in a text message that Heard had not requested a transfer and remained a member of the team.
But Heard plans to move on, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as not to influence the transfer process that officially began Tuesday.
“It was a hard decision (for Heard). He loves Nebraska,” the source said. “But he wants to go someplace where he has a shot to play running back.”
Heard's intentions are to remain on Nebraska's campus until the end of the spring semester. It is unclear what schools Heard is interested in at this point, though the assumption is that he'd like to play closer to his hometown of Youngstown.
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NCAA rules state that Nebraska has seven days to respond to Heard's written request to speak with coaches or administrators from other programs.
Heard was still listed on NU's online roster Tuesday.
Heard averaged 6.7 yards per attempt on 52 carries in 12 games during the 2012 season, but he was presumably frustrated with his role at times. When star Rex Burkhead was injured for a four-game stretch late in Big Ten play, Heard recorded just 10 rushing attempts while classmate Ameer Abdullah ran it 95 times.
The NU coaches did approach Heard this offseason with the idea for him to take reps at receiver, according to the source. Heard has been moved once before — he agreed last offseason to practice at defensive back before again becoming a full-time I-back in August.
Still, though, Heard was expected to be the No. 2 I-back for the Huskers this fall, automatically moving a slot higher on the depth chart after the graduation of Burkhead.
Nebraska returns Abdullah, the junior who had a breakthrough campaign as the Huskers' top rusher in 2012 with 1,137 yards on 226 attempts. Sophomore Imani Cross, who finished with 324 yards on 55 carries last year, seemed to be defining his role toward the end of the season. Two highly-touted recruits — Adam Taylor, out of Katy, Texas, and Terrell Newby, from West Hills, Calif. — are expected to sign letters of intent next week and join the NU program this summer.
And quarterback Taylor Martinez, who ran 195 times for Nebraska a year ago, will absorb some of the workload on the ground for the Huskers, too.
But Heard is apparently out of that picture now. He has two years of eligibility remaining, plus a season to redshirt.
Former Husker Aaron Green, who left the NU program and transferred to TCU last summer, expressed on Twitter that Nebraska was losing a talented player in Heard. The two spoke Tuesday. Heard will “ball wherever he goes,” Green said on Twitter.
Green did not respond to messages from The World-Herald seeking comment.
World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon contributed to this report.
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