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Nebraska Huskers Spring Football: Previewing the Running Backs

With Rex Burkhead and Braylon Heard gone, who will back up Ameer Abdullah, will redshirts be burned and are any walk-ons getting a look?

Eric Francis
No. 8 Ameer Abdullah (Jr.) 5-9, 190 226 carries for 1,137 yards and eight TDs; 24 catches for 178 yards and two TDs
No. 32 Imani Cross (So.) 6-1, 225 55 carries for 324 yads and seven TDs
Terrell Newby (Fr.) 5-10, 180 N/A
Adam Taylor (Fr.) 6-2, 200 N/A

1. Fear Ameer - Opposing defenses should, anyway. While Rex Burkhead was robbed of the opportunity to go out in style as a senior, Abdullah had the chance to carry a heavy load as a sophomore.

He's gone eight straight games without scoring a touchdown (yes, really), but the Huskers won every game he had 10-plus touches in except one (UCLA).

As a junior, he'll continue his physical development, but just as important, he still needs to refine his ball-carrying skills. This is an area that saw improvement from his true freshman season to the end of the 2012, so there's reason for optimism.

Following a knee injury suffered earlier this month, Bo Pelini reported that he "tweaked" his knee, is fine and will sit out the remainder of the spring as a precaution. Not a bad move.

2. No Braylon Heard - If there's a positive to Heard's departure, it means no more Surfin' Bird jokes.

Regardless, he was No. 4 on the rushing charts at the end of the 2012 season. No. 3 (Burkhead) has graduated and Taylor Martinez is No. 2. Thanks to Heard's departure, 2013's main backup will likely be man-beast Imani Cross.

Cross accounted for seven touchdowns in 2012. It was obvious that he'd be a power back from the get-go and he proved that theory by scoring all but one of his rushing scores in the red zone.

He's working to become more than just a battering ram, though. Keep your eyes on him during the Red-White Game. He may bust out a few new moves.

3. Terrell Newby - One of the finest running backs out of the state of California last cycle, Newby is surrounded by plenty of hype, and rightly so. While he isn't the largest back you'll see, he's not only fast, but incredibly elusive.

He comes across as the type of back Tim Beck was looking for in Heard, but wasn't getting. If Newby can pick up pass blocking early, only good things await

4. Adam Taylor - If you're looking for a more "traditional" running back, Taylor's your man. Arguably one of the finest at his position from the state of Texas signed in the 2012 cycle (see a trend?), he appears to be more physically ready than Newby with a 6'2" 205-pound frame.

If you're a fan of the tearaway jerseys that Nebraska wore in the 1980's, have a mental image of one getting shredded ready. To take full advantage of what his offense can do, Beck will likely strip one, if not both of the freshmen's redshirts.

5. Walk-ons - The Huskers boast a stable full of athletic walk-on running backs, but Lee's Summit, MO native King Frazier is getting the most notice by fans. He'll likely be featured on April 6, so look for No. 23.