Position: Running Back
Height/Weight: 5-foot-9, 185 pounds
High School: Homewood high school (Ala.)
Abdullah burst onto the scene last year as a true freshman, making his largest impact on special teams.
The Alabama native averaged 7.1 yards per punt return, leading the Huskers in punt return yards. But it was his 29.3 yards per kickoff that turned heads. His efforts landed him a spot on many publication's All-Conference team as a kickoff returner.
Abdullah’s season was highlighted by his 228 return yards, which included a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, against Fresno State. His 211 kickoff return yards set a new school record, breaking Josh Davis' 186 yards set in 2002.
Abdullah was also the first choice to back up starting running back Rex Burkhead in 2011, finishing the year with 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns – including 12 carries against Iowa in the last regular season game of the year.
Last year Abdullah became one of the nation’s top kickoff returners and will be Nebraska’s primary kickoff returner in 2012.
But the sophomore's production could take a hit in 2012, after the NCAA passed a rule change moving the kickoff up five yards. Abdullah isn't worried.
Abdullah says the game is slower now after his freshman season (Photo: BRR)
“I watch a lot of NFL,” said Abdullah. “They would receive the ball eight yards in the end zone and still take it out just fine, and take it to the house.
“I know Coach Els is going to draw up some good schemes so we can still return some of those kick-offs from deep in the end zone. I know there are some good kickers in the Big Ten, so I am sure they are really happy about that, but we are going to do our best to make plays even with the new rules.”
With the departure of fellow sophomore running back Aaron Green to TCU, Abdullah is expected to be even a bigger factor in the running game as well. The Nebraska coaching staff has made it a point that they would like to see Burkhead's carries go down this season.
“Hopefully if my name gets called I can just produce,” said Abdullah in the spring. “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.”
How he ended up in Lincoln:
As a senior at Homewood high school, Abdullah rushed for 1,795 yards, and 24 touchdowns. He also recorded 561 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. The 2011 prospect was also recruited by a handful of teams as a cornerback.
The former scout.com three-star athlete chose Nebraska over schools like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Louisville, Maryland, Southern Mississippi, Texas A&M, USC, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia.
- BRR's Josh Harvey contributed to this report -