Ameer Abdullah made headlines when he decided to return to Nebraska for his senior year.
According to his statement on Huskers.com, the I-back valued his education over early entry to the NFL draft. Since then, fans have expressed their excitement over Abdullah's choice to stay. Additionally, it has become clear that the Huskers are Abdullah's team in 2014.
While his talent brings a lot to the table for Nebraska, it is his leadership that brings much more.
Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald summed Abdullah up best:
Ameer has the intellect and the commitment level to be a phenomenal leader. He’s Nebraska’s best returning player. He’s the hardest worker on the team. And he’s a senior. That creates a platform from which he has tremendous credibility. That empowers him — in the eyes of his teammates — to be as important as any coach, aside from Bo.
Additionally, Chatelain believes Abdullah needs to embrace his role as a leader. He's absolutely correct in thinking so.
Bo on Ameer Abdullah: "He’s a leader. He’s a winner. He’s everything you want on the field. He’s everything you want off the field."— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) November 11, 2013
Over the years, Nebraska has had standout players that were positioned as leaders. However, their vocal role on the team, especially as seniors, was small. That list includes players like Ndamukong Suh and Rex Burkhead. Even Taylor Martinez failed to use his voice enough as a senior.
In fact, one of the most frustrating parts of Martinez's presence for fans was his inability to be vocal on the sidelines. He never spoke up when he was unhappy.
Over the last six years that Bo Pelini has been head coach, there really hasn't been a vocal leader on the team. Suh was the closest, yet he still wasn't the most vocal guy. When he graduated, Jared Crick was even less vocal.
It's understandable too. Not every person is designed to be a vocal leader. Players like Suh, Burkhead and Crick had a tendency to lead by example. They worked hard, which translated to fellow players doing the same.
However, a young Nebraska team in 2014 requires a vocal leader. Abdullah has the chance to be that person. Choosing to stay at Nebraska was his first step.
Abdullah now has an opportunity to leave a legacy at Nebraska. As Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star pointed out, "With 904 rushing yards in 2014, Abdullah would pass Ahman Green for No. 2 on Nebraska's career list. With 1,804 yards, Abdullah would pass Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier as the school's career rushing leader."
Beyond what he's capable of on the field, Abdullah can further enhance his legacy by leading off it. Players like Burkhead have shown outstanding character while playing for the Huskers. Abdullah is on a path to do the same.
Ameer Abdullah, on his role: "I step into that leadership role. I have to be the voice of the team now." #Huskers— Eric Olson (@ericolson64) January 16, 2014
What can set Abdullah apart is his ability to be vocal on the sidelines and in the locker room. He's shown the ability to do this in previous seasons, so fans will be looking for him to evolve even further in 2014.
Regardless, Abdullah will be a major asset to Nebraska in his final season. The young team will be looking to him for guidance. As a senior, he'll have a lot of pressure to lead.
It shouldn't be an issue for Abdullah, though. If the 2014 Huskers belong to anyone, it's him.