Ameer Abdullah has already made a name for himself. After three seasons with the Huskers, the I-back made headlines when he chose to stay for his senior season at Nebraska over entering the NFL draft.
A few months after that decision was made, the benefits are starting to pay off.
Abdullah has already been named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list, alongside 47 other high-level performers in college football. He has also been invited to speak on behalf of all Big Ten football players at the conference's annual media days luncheon, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
At this point, it seems like Abdullah is unstoppable. As a result, if the senior is able to stay healthy, he will be a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy in 2014.
The Heisman Pundit has already placed Abdullah on its post-spring watch list. A fan-created Facebook page dedicated solely to his 2014 Heisman campaign already has more than 17,000 likes. Even USA Today noted back in January that the I-back is a favorite to win the award.
It's not just buzz around Abdullah, either. He genuinely has a shot at not only being in New York City on Dec. 13 but also winning the whole thing.
His career stats speak volumes.
|Career Stats - Rushing|
If he can replicate the last two seasons and have 1,000 or more rushing yards, it would put him in the Husker history books.
Beyond that, it would make him hard to ignore as a top contender for the Heisman. His numbers are impressive, and they only get better each year.
Plus, Abdullah is more than just a great player. He is also a great example. As the Lincoln Journal Star's Steven M. Sipple wrote, "Ameer Abdullah is team-oriented, degree-oriented, family-oriented, big-yardage-oriented and media-oriented."
That would make him a very welcome member of the Heisman family.
Abdullah won't be alone in this campaign, though. His entire team will also be responsible for helping the senior get noticed. Big wins and a break in the typical four-loss season would help Abdullah tremendously.
Also, a trip to the Big Ten Championship game wouldn't hurt his chances either. Nebraska will have to step up to provide Abdullah the best possible situation to be considered for the award.
However, his talents can and likely will speak louder than anything else. While Heisman voters may take the entire Nebraska team into account, the award is ultimately about the player. If Abdullah shines, it could very well outweigh the type of season the Huskers have.
Things can always change. What's working in Abdullah's favor is that he's staying very level-headed about it. He made mention of that when he addressed the media in January, per Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star:
At the end of the day, you have to take it with a grain of salt and understand there are going to be a lot of high expectations now. You have to stay humble and stay focused on what matters at this point. The Heisman doesn't matter at this point. It's about getting stronger, getting faster, getting back up to speed and getting prepared for next year.
The Heisman Trophy is one of the most prestigious awards in sports. Nebraska currently has three players that have won the award—Johnny Rodgers in 1972, Mike Rozier in 1983 and Eric Crouch in 2001. Could 2014 be the year the Huskers add a fourth?
If anyone has a chance, it's Abdullah.