INDIANAPOLIS — Amid the noisy, quickly-moving crowds of media at the NFL Combine, Braylon Heard sat at a sparsely-populated table. If there were a radar fixed on Lucas Oil Stadium, Heard, the former Nebraska and Kentucky running back, would definitely be under it. He only had 830 yards and eight rushing touchdowns in his career.
"I was actually pretty surprised I got an invite," Heard said. "But God doesn't make mistakes, man."
The same thinking goes for Heard's decision to leave Nebraska in 2013, after a 2012 season in which Ameer Abdullah blossomed in the wake of Rex Burkhead's injury, and Heard mostly sat the bench. Heard was the second of two running backs to leave the program after Abdullah firmly entrenched himself as the best of a Husker freshman trio. Aaron Green, who will be a senior at TCU, left before the 2012 season.
Nebraska coaches didn't want Heard, who graduated from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney — the alma mater of former Husker coaches Bo Pelini and Tim Beck — to leave NU. There was even a desire on Nebraska's part to get Heard more involved at slot receiver so he could get on the field at the same time as Abdullah.
But Heard has zero regrets about leaving Lincoln.
"Things just weren't working out," Heard said. "I didn't feel like myself there. I love all the coaches and everything, but it just wasn't the right fit for me. ... I mean, I wasn't getting a lot of opportunities. That's just the way they ran the offense."
Abdullah got 4.34 times the carries Heard did in 2012.
After sitting out a season at Kentucky, Heard finished with 368 yards and four touchdowns in 2014. He chose to leave the Wildcats program because he's already 23 years old. He'll turn 24 in October.
"As a running back, we only have so many years on us," Heard said. "I'm ready to get my life started, start making some money and help my family out."
Heard said he wants to run a 40-yard dash time between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds.
"I'm just trying to come in and put up some good numbers, to show them I can compete with anyone," he said.