Player Spotlight: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
The Nebraska Cornhuskers are having an off year (for them) for some legitimate reasons. Their quarterback, Taylor Martinez, went down with a foot injury that could possibly end his career as a Cornhusker. A four-year starter, Martinez has only played four games for Nebraska this year. Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has had a couple of family issues and the controversy that he cursed at fans during a game. However, Nebraska is still sitting number two in the Legends Division, and although they cannot make the Big Ten championship game, the Cornhuskers can still finish 9-3 and play in a respectable bowl game. The main reason for Nebraska’s success can be attributed to their star running back, Ameer Abdullah.
Abdullah is having, simply put, a monster year for the Cornhuskers. The junior currently ranks seventh in the nation and first in the Big Ten in rushing yards, with 1,336. Not only does Abdullah possess the yardage, but he has accumulated them in an incredibly efficient manner. Abdullah has carried 206 times, equaling 6.5 yards per carry. To put this into perspective, Abdullah almost has as many yards per carry as Nebraska’s quarterback, Tommy Armstrong Jr. has per attempt. Abdullah also has impressive hands, something that a lot of teams can take for granted. He has caught 22 balls for 191 yards.
It seems odd that a player like Abdullah can be so dominant in the rushing game. Listed at only 5-9, 190, he looks like a normal person, not an athletic freak like Adrian Peterson or a bowling ball like Ray Rice. Abdullah makes up for his lack of size with speed, speed, and some more speed. The Cornhusker junior literally jumps off the screen when he finds his hole, bursting through and leaving defenders in his wake. Abdullah has that breakaway speed that really every running back in the country wants, but he also has incredible vision and agility. One of the most underrated traits for a running back is his vision. Some backs have it, while others don’t. Abdullah certainly has the vision of a running back that can go to the next level. Abdullah is a patient back and loves to look for the cutback lane, but that doesn’t mean he will not burst through the hole if it’s available.
In contrary to some backs in the country, Abdullah rises to the occasion in tough contests. Just last week, he almost singlehandedly won Nebraska the game over Michigan State despite their five turnovers. Michigan State has one of the best defenses in the country, and has simply shut down team’s week in and week out. The Spartans had no allowed a 100-yard rusher all year and was just coming off a dominant performance against Michigan, allowing an unworldly negative 48 rushing yards/ Abdullah did not care about the Spartan defense and ran for 123 yards, with a 5.6 yard per carry average.
Penn State certainly has their hands full in their last home game against the Nebraska. Abdullah will look to build on his already excellent year and run all over the Nittany Lion defense. For Penn State to have any chance to win they have to limit the Abdullah, or it’s going to turn into a long Saturday afternoon for fans of the Nittany Lions.
Tim Alvarez is a sophomore majoring in broadcast jounalism. To contact him, email tva5063psu.edu.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)