Lincoln, NE - When sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah came to Lincoln via the state of Alabama, the 5-foot-9, 180 pound prospect thought he knew what hard work was all about.
That was until he met running back Rex Burkhead.
"I came in and tried to work hard everyday, but to see his work ethic, it's mine times ten. I really just try to model myself after him," Abdullah told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "He pushes us everyday in drills. The days it is hot, a lot of the young guys are saying 'it's hot out here,' but he taps us on the back and says 'it's football.' It's what we signed up for. His leadership is really big everyday, he's really there for us."
After showing how big of a threat he could be on special teams in 2011, Abdullah is trying to make great strides as a running back. Last year, as a true freshman, he recorded 42 carries for 150 yards and three scores. With Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck publicly stating the Huskers need to give Burkhead the ball less, Abdullah knows he will have to be ready.
"We (Aaron Green) are trying to work hard to be a reliever for him, the carries, that's all up to the coaches," said Abdullah. "It's all mental...I think I fumbled three times last year and they were all in crucial games. That's something I have to work on, it's all about being mentally tough. Holding the ball high and getting into a repetition.
"After the first year, everything feels way slower, because I'm a lot more comfortable with the plays and know where everyone is supposed to be. I can react quicker. Everyone was happening really fast for me because I didn't have a really good grasp of the offense. I feel good and comfortable in the offense now."
During offseason film sessions, Abdullah didn't just focus on carries he was in the game, but a combination of all the backs.
"I watched all the backs, because each guy could do something one of us couldn't," said Abdullah. "I watch Aaron and he is one of the most elusive backs I have ever seen. He's really quick. When it comes to Rex, he's tough and can make people miss in small places. I'm just trying to combine all their games into mine."