Running backs coach Ron Brown almost didn’t want to admit Monday that Ameer Abdullah’s workload will likely be limited this spring. Because there are so many ways the junior I-back can get better.
Brown provided a few examples: 1) How Abdullah utilizes his plant foot in the open field; 2) Pass protection techniques; 3) Carrying out fakes with full commitment; 4) Becoming more dangerous as a check-down receiver.
Abdullah still needs reps, even though he’s proven so much already, according to Brown.
“I know what I have but I also want him to get better,” Brown said. “There’s areas in his game that he wants to improve on.”
(Ball security’s another one. Abdullah fumbled eight times and lost six last year, but he did become more reliable once Rex Burkhead went down for a third time, according to Brown.)
But obviously, with a shifty, contact-seeker like Abdullah, those weaknesses are drastically outweighed by his strengths. Just ask his backup, Imani Cross, who used these words to describe Abdullah: “Quick. Disciplined. Explosive. High-motor.”
And don’t forget that the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Abdullah was Nebraska’s co-lifter of the year last December (Justin Jackson was the other guy honored). Over the last five seasons, that award’s gone to Burkhead (twice), Lavonte David, Jared Crick, Ndamukong Suh and Matt Slauson.
No wonder Cross went to all that effort over the last two months to remold his body, dropping from 235 to 221.
A couple extra tidbits on the running backs are below…
>> Big chance for three redshirt freshman walk-on I-backs this spring. The 6-foot, 220-pound King Frazier has “outstanding eyes” and a “great feel,” Brown said. Jordan Nelson has quickness. Graham Nabity, too. Brown on Nabity (6-0, 210): “He’s a big back that moves very well.”
>> The fullbacks (C.J. Zimmerer, Mike Marrow and Andy Janovich) could line up at I-back for a few reps this spring, but that won’t be their focus, Brown said.
>> Cross on his approach this spring: “Every day’s a big day to get better and to try to work on something that you weren’t as great at yesterday. I always try to get better every day. I don’t really look back. I just try to look forward.”