BRR 2014 profile: Imani Cross

Imani Cross had a better spring than many imagined, but what does that mean for the junior in 2014?

Imani Cross

Position: RB

Height/Weight: 6-foot-1/230-pounds

High School: North Hall HS (GA)

Year: Junior:

2013 review:
While Cross probably would have preferred quite a few more carries, the Georgia native rushed 85 times for 447 yards and 10 touchdowns – becoming a threat for the Huskers around the goal line.

Considering the opponent, Cross’ best game of the season came against Illinois, where he rushed 15 times for 76 yard and a touchdown. His biggest play of the year came against Michigan State in the third quarter, when he ran 51 yards for a touchdown against Sparty.

Melvin Gordon was the best backup running back in the Big Ten last season, but Cross showed he has the ability to carry a load behind Ameer Abdullah.

2014 review:
Cross comes into the season in a fight for the top backup running back spot, but likely did enough in the spring to clinch No.2 behind Abdullah. Most Nebraska fans figured he would take a backseat to some talented youngsters, but it wasn’t the case.

"I just try to take it one day at a time, one play at a time. I just try to make sure I focus on the little things and not so much looking at the big picture,” said Cross after the spring game. “I just make the picture smaller and try to get better every day.”

Cross’s plan to get better consisted of getting back to his normal playing weight, after dropping below 220 pounds in 2013, while improving his speed to the line.

"I've just been trying to get more explosive in the weight room. I'm working hard and I'm doing my squats,” said Cross. “I'm really pushing hard when I'm doing sleds and trying to push so when I get into open field it's not as long of a transition to get to full speed.”

BRR projection: Cross isn’t ready to dethrone Abdullah, but will get more carries than he did last year, as Nebraska tries to pound the ball a little bit more with a young quarterback. Don’t be surprised if he’s around 100 to 125 carries for 600 yards this season. But, don’t expect another ten touchdowns. Abdullah will likely get a few more carries inside the 20 this season, as the Huskers spotlight the senior.

How he ended up in Lincoln:
The nation's No. 34 running back in the 2012 class, Cross registered nearly 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season in 2011 His play earned him a spot in the International Bowl.

Jumping into his recruitment late after he decommitted from Tennessee, Nebraska edged out the Vols, Kentucky, and East Carolina for Cross’ services. If he had ended up at any of those three schools, it’s very likely he would have been starting by now after reviewing their depth charts.

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