Imani's time

With Ameer Abdullah likely sidelined for the rest of spring, sophomore Imani Cross has all the opportunities in the world to show the coaching staff he's more versatile in 2013.

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska running back's coach Ron Brown had a message for his team last week during the Huskers' first practice without first-team running back Ameer Abdullah (knee).

"Go get better."

It's something sophomore running back Imani Cross does everyday.

Cross is often one of the first running backs on the field before practice. He's always the last to leave it. The Georgia native will benefit the most from Abdullah's time on the sidelines, but it hasn't changed the second-team back's mentality.

"When Ameer got hurt, I said, 'Lord I hope he gets better.' I never want to get in a situation just because a guy went down," said Cross last week. "I want to work my way up and I want to be the best I can be and focus on me. I never want to take an opportunity just because someone gets hurts. I just hope he gets better and we can compete.

"I have to step up, understand my role, understand my assignments and try to be the best I can be everyday. My main focus is progressing and getting better.

"Nothing has changed. We still have the same standards. We want to get better each and every day. We support Ameer. We hope he gets better."

After rushing 55 times for 324 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012, Cross slimmed down during the months of January and February.

While he might have had a niche on the field last season as a short-yardage back, he knew he needed to strive to become a "more complete" player at the position.

With a change of diet, Cross lost nearly 15 pounds and is now playing around 220. A change in weight quite noticeable for teammates and the running back himself.

"I feel fine at 220. I still have a lot to work on. But at 220 I do feel a little more in shape and a little quicker. But I'm still trying to get quicker," said the sophomore.

The Huskers will resume practices on Monday after taking this week off for spring break.

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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