Former Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah joined “The Bottom Line” on Tuesday with host Mike’l Severe and guest co-host Joe Ganz. Here's a transcript from some of the interview. For the full discussion, check out the video above the story.
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Is it weird to hear “former” Nebraska I-back?
It is. It seems like now I’m supposed to be training in the offseason with the boys — getting ready for another Nebraska football season. Now I’m training for the NFL. The stakes are much higher.
When you go to the Senior Bowl and places like that, how much better is the competition?
These are the best players in college football. A lot of those guys — a couple of those guys — are first-rounders, a couple guys are going to be high draft picks, guys who are going to play five to 10 years in the NFL. It’s a lot better competition, so every time you’re down there you’ve got to make sure you give it your all.
Go through your approach of going down for the Senior Bowl. Is there a specific thing you wanted to prove that you could do?
No, I’ve never been a spiteful player by any means. I never feel like I have to prove something. More than anything, I wanted to go down there and compete, be a guy who showed up, a guy who — at the end of every film session that the coaches had — they’d go “hey, there goes so-and-so showing up on film again.” That’s all I really wanted to do. I didn’t want to go down there and prove that I could do this or that. Because when you put too much emphasis on trying to make the big plays too many times, then you start to overreach. ... So I just tried to do what I know what to do.
What did coaches down there say about your skill set on how it translates to the next level?
Just that I’m a guy who can be used in a variety of ways. Obviously I play running back, so I can run the football. But also in the passing game, returning game. Anytime that you can use your value the best you can — get the best out of your value, so to say — you have a good opportunity to play longer in the NFL.
Is there any one running back you modeled your game after growing up?
I wouldn’t say model. It’s hard to model different people. Everyone brings a different skill set to the table. Some people share similar skill sets, but everyone is their own unique player, so it’s hard to model yourself after someone. Especially if you’re a college athlete and you’re trying to model yourself after an elite NFL running back. ... But who do I really look up to? A guy who I said before, Warrick Dunn, for sure is a guy who I idolize, a guy who was a role model for me, a guy who I feel handled himself responsibly on the field and off the field. Because I’m a firm believer in what you do off the field will transpire to what you will become on the field. And he’s a testament to that.
Did the lack of star-hype out of high school add to your motivation coming in to Nebraska?
No, because this is kind of how I break down the star thing: All it is is some guy who wakes up one morning and sees a guy and says, “he’s a five-star.” That’s all they do. None of this stuff is really — in my opinion — off of film study, a guy with true work ethic, true personality traits. None of that stuff really goes into it nowadays. ... None of that stuff really matters when you show up on a college campus.
In your opinion, who’s the next great I-back at Nebraska?
Shoot, they all could be. Whoever wants it the most. Obviously Imani Cross is there, and he’s probably one of the hardest-working individuals — not just player, individuals — that I’ve ever met. So I would imagine with his experience and his drive and his hunger and passion for the game, he’s a guy who’s really going to have a leg up on things. ... Terrell Newby is a guy who, once he gets more confident in himself and understanding that he’s fast as crap, and just letting himself just play and play loose and make plays like I see him do sometimes in practice, he’s gonna be a really dynamic player. He has 0 to 60 speed. He can get there, he has great hands, long arms, a guy who’s gotten better at pass protection. Adam Taylor as well, I throw him right up there with Imani when it comes to work ethic. If he sees me in the weight room, he’s right there and says “Man, I want to work with you.” ... Adam’s a guy who I have a lot of faith in. The wild card is Mikale Wilbon. You’ve got a new staff, so everyone is on the same playing ground. No one has an advantage learning the playbook. He’s a guy who’s really talented. He doesn’t talk much, he’s young, so he’s in his shell. ... I’m excited now. Nebraska has a good problem right now with a lot of good backs.
What are you going to miss most about Nebraska?
My friends, really. The greatest friendships have come since I’ve been living in Nebraska. You’re always thinking you’re going to meet your best friend in high school, but going off to college and meeting guys like Kenny Bell, Josh Mitchell, Jerald Foster, Taariq Allen, I can just go on. Those are some of my closest friends. I’m going to have those bonds for a lifetime.