Through the tumult of injuries and uncertainty on Nebraska’s offense, there’s been a constant in the backfield: No. 8. Ameer Abdullah. He’s the midseason offensive MVP for his explosive playmaking, his versatility and his dependability.
Abdullah spent his first two years in the shadow of Rex Burkhead, battling players (Aaron Green, Braylon Heard) with more impressive high school résumés than his. Burkhead graduated. Green and Heard left. Only Abdullah remains. And he’s off to a six-game start that Burkhead never enjoyed.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder from Homewood, Ala., has run for 816 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per carry. He’s added 14 catches for 137 yards. He’s on the best pace of any NU running back since Ahman Green in 1997. After running for 225 yards against Illinois, he was named co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
Abdullah combines his skill set with a strong work ethic in the weight room and on the practice field. He can often be found working after practice with sophomore running back Imani Cross on one drill or another. Recently, Abdullah worked on his ball security — one last remaining weakness — by holding the ball high and tight for 100 yards. He’s also taken to watching film on his smartphone right before he goes to bed, snapping his fingers when he thinks he should have made a cut.
“Playing in a fair amount of football games here now, I realized that making a quick decision is better than waiting for the big play all the time,” Abdullah said. “It’s different between being patient and too patient. If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, then you are never going to excel.”
Abdullah’s switch was set to “excel” in the first half of the year.