|Nati Harnik/Associated Press|
|Nebraska's Ameer Adbullah will return as one of the top RB prospects in college football next season.|
Nebraska tailback Ameer Abdullah will return for his senior season, the school announced Thursday.
The decision was expected, as Abdullah had hinted that he would stay in school.
"The average NFL career, because of the violent nature of the sport, is less than five years," Abdullah said in a statement released by the school. " ... I have come to realize that life is bigger than football, and that my chances of long-term success in life will be greatly enhanced by completing my college education."
Abdullah (5-foot-9, 190 pounds) finished ninth nationally with 1,690 rushing yards, and depending on the pro decision made by Arizona junior Ka'Deem Carey, Abdullah could be the nation's leading returning rusher next season. Carey rushed for 1,885 yards this season, third-most nationally. The others in the top nine either were seniors (Boston College's Andre Williams, Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews and Stanford's Tyler Gaffney) or are going pro (Washington's Bishop Sankey, Auburn's Tre Mason and Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs).
Abdullah led the Big Ten in rushing yards and was a first-team all-league honoree. He also was one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back.
He had a school-record 11 100-yard games this season, and his rushing total was fourth-highest in school history. He had nine games with at least 20 carries, and also had 26 receptions, giving him 50 in the past two seasons.
Abdullah also has spent time as a kick and punt returner in his Huskers career. He has good speed, running a 4.49 in the 40, and is shifty and explosive. He can run between the tackles effectively as well as turn the corner. He also has shown he is a willing pass blocker. Fumbling is an issue, though: He has fumbled 20 times in his three seasons, losing 15 of them.
Abdullah knows it is a problem and told the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald last month that he has changed the way he carries the ball and has gone through specific drills to help him do a better job of holding onto the ball. Getting his fumbling issues under control would help his draft stock, though NFL personnel evaluators will have Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon as the highest-rated running back in the Big Ten next season.
Abdullah is just the fourth back in Nebraska's history to rush for 1,600 yards; Mike Rozier did it twice, and Ahman Green and Lawrence Phillips each did it once. Abdullah, who is from Homewood, Ala., a Birmingham suburb, has 16 career 100-yard games; that's tied for fourth-most in school history, 10 behind Rozier's school-record and four behind Green, who is second in school history.
Abdullah will be the focal point of the Huskers' offense next season, and should head into the season as one of the nation's top 10 Heisman candidates.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.