Nebraska Football’s Rex Burkhead: The Cornhuskers' Next Big Thing

Brandon CavanaughCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Quarterback Cody Green #17 of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers runs with the ball as Runningback Rex Burkhead #22 blocks against the University of Arizona Wildcats during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, on December 30, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

He’s only a true sophomore, but he may dodge the traditional slump like a speeding bullet. He can leap defenders in a single bound. The nickname “Superman” has followed Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead from Plano, Texas to Lincoln, Nebraska and with good reason.

Burkhead was looked at as a potential threat even as a true freshman and he didn’t disappoint. While only playing in nine games, he was Nebraska’s second-leading rusher with 346 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He added another catching the football.

Rex’s abilities on the ground aren’t the only reason that Cornhusker fans are buzzing about him. During his 2009 Holiday Bowl performance, he was featured in the Wildcat formation. He provided an instant impact being used as a decoy and taking direct hand-offs.

Much like a former Nebraska favorite, 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, Burkhead is a legitimate weapon running, catching, and even throwing the football a bit. His versatility out of the backfield and more specifically the Wildcat make combinations such as speed demon Taylor Martinez and him a nightmare.

After healing from a broken foot encased in a boot during five games in Nebraska’s 2009 regular season itching to play, he busted loose. 18 carries for 100 yards against Colorado made Cornhusker fans wonder about his comeback. His postseason play merely cemented it.

Nothing is healthier in football than a little stiff competition. Senior Roy Helu Jr. is going to get plenty of it from his true sophomore counterpart. Will Nebraska have two 1,000 yard-rushers in 2010? I’d have to say no. Simply because Helu and Burkhead will be counted on equally with the latter used in passing situations as well.

While Helu will likely ride out the season as Nebraska’s 1,000-yard rusher if one is to be had, Burkhead’s future is bright. The big, red “S” on his chest will not fade.

His No. 22 jerseys will continue to sell out across the country.

Nebraska may enter Big 10 play in 2011 with one of the biggest, baddest bruisers to grace the roster in a long time.