Ameer Abdullah was a three-star recruit in the class of 2011 and was rated the No. 56 running back in the nation. The 5-foot-9 and 180-pound athlete had college coaches split on whether he was an offensive or defensive recruit. The first article that mentioned Abdullah on Scout.com was a sleeper list from a Nike camp report.
“Abdullah won the running back MVP in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa. He is a small back, but very quick and slippery. Abdullah wasn't noticed as much until the running back drills and one-on-ones. He slipped past linebackers with ease and showcased breakaway speed. He is definitely a player to watch as the summer camp circuit gets underway.”
That article was written back in May of 2010. By the end of June there were five offers on the table for Abdullah. There were also a lot of teams showing interest including a team that as a recruit from Homewood (Ala.) he grew up following…Auburn.
"I have received offers from Southern Miss, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Middle Tennessee," said Abdullah at time. "The most recent offer came from Southern Miss. They offered me back in early June. I have been receiving interest from Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Texas Tech. Probably the school showing the most interest is West Virginia. They are looking at me real hard."
Three months later, the offer total was up to 11. Abdullah also set up his first official visit to Vanderbilt. He was also chosen to player in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. It was about this time where some big offers came in like one from Clemson. There was something about this offer though and Abdullah’s comments about the offer that stand out looking back at it.
”Last week Clemson offered me as a cornerback. Maryland offered last week as well. They offered me as a running back," said Abdullah at the time. "I am really excited about those offers. I actually feel like cornerback is where I am best suited to play. Everyone thinks I want to play running, back but I think if I am given a chance I can prove myself at corner. That's where the money is at."
Abdullah’s senior season wrapped up with him gaining 1,700 yards rushing, another 700 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns. Auburn also chose to extend an offer to Abdullah and was the top school in November of 2010, along with West Virginia.
Shortly after the new year Nebraska offered Abdullah to go along with Auburn, Alabama, USC, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Clemson. Most offers were to play offense while some did see the two-way standout on defense.
”USC, Alabama and Tennessee have said they like me at corner, the rest of the schools like Nebraska, West Virginia and Clemson have said running back. I don't really prefer either one, I'm comfortable playing both running back and corner," said Abdullah. "Whatever the coaches feel is best, I'll do. I'm more worried about getting a good education than I am what position I'll play."
Abdullah took a visit to Nebraska in the middle of January. He had a visit set up to USC at the end of that month. Following the official visit to Nebraska Abdullah was favoring those two schools. He was being recruited on offense by Nebraska and defense by USC after an impressive performance in the Offense-Defense All-American game.
Abdullah didn’t take the other visit. He committed to Nebraska later in the week. He credited a personal approach by the former staff and the fans of Nebraska - not the side of the ball the Huskers wanted him to play on.
"They were real genuine to me. I talked to coach Beck the first time and he asked me to tell him about myself," said Abdulalh at the time. "He didn't talk about football until the next time. He wanted to know me on a personal stand point. They are real people. I love the city. It's similar to Birmingham. It's not too big or too small. I can see myself fitting in real well. I really love the city and the vibe. I love the fans.”
And they loved him back. Abdullah leaves Nebraska as not only one of the best to ever play the position at Nebraska, but a fan favorite. This after having followed another of the most popular running backs in Nebraska history, Rex Burkhead.
Production helps. Abdullah finished only behind Mike Rozier on the all-time rushing list at Nebraska with 4,588 yards. He also rushed for 1,000 yards for three straight seasons becoming the only runner to do that at Nebraska. He also totaled over 1,600 yards rushing the past two years.
A third-team All-American a year ago and a second-team All-American this past season, Abdullah was also a numerous conference player of the week and made multiple national watch lists. People loved his heart on the field and they really loved it off of it too.
Abdullah was a regular volunteer around Lincoln. He was named to both the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne citizenship teams. He won the Nebraska student-athlete HERO award in 2012 and 2014, named to the honor roll three times and was an academic all-conference selection in 2013.
Abdullah came in at 5-foot-9 and tipping the scales at 205-pounds this past weekend at the combine. The 4.6/40-yard dash time might have been a little slower than some had hoped, but likely doesn’t hurt his draft stock. Abdullah did 24 reps at 225-pounds on the bench press, had a 42.5-inch vertical jump, and broad jumped 10’10”.
Nebraska has a huge hole to fill with the loss of Abdullah to the NFL. No question, Nebraska fans are ready to get behind some former players at the next level. Abdullah was the complete package at Nebraska though and Husker Nation realizes how fortunate they were to have got a chance to experience it.