Published Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm / Updated at 11:09 pm
FOOTBALL
Notes: Abdullah solidifies own style following popular Husker Burkhead

Ameer Abdullah went from one cluster of reporters to another Friday, answering every question thrown at him — even the redundant ones. The junior may not quite have the media moshpit former Husker Rex Burkhead enjoyed, but it's getting closer.

And Abdullah — quite competitive, yet friendly with Burkhead — is ready to carve out his own niche at running back.

“I want to do what Ameer does,” he said when asked if he'd run some of the same plays Burkhead did. “I don't want to do what Rex does. I want to innovate my own things.”

Might sound haughty, but as Abdullah elaborated, it morphed into something else.

“Rex's a great guy to pattern yourself after,” Abdullah said. “He's a great guy in the community. Obviously you see what he does on the film. He carries himself so well. I feel like I'm not worthy sometimes because Rex is such a great guy. But obviously, I want to be my own person at the end of the day. Do my own things and make my own mark.”

Abdullah said he's healthy — “not even a cold” — heading into Monday's training camp. He missed the last part of spring camp with a tweaked knee.

Qvale feels in shape

Left tackle Brent Qvale looks to be the best shape of his career. He still weighs 315 pounds, but he's “redistributed” the weight.

He said he's certainly as healthy as he's been at NU. No knee troubles.

“I've been doing that I need to make myself healthy and making myself the best I can be,” Qvale said.

Incoming junior college recruit Matt Finnin has caught on quickly, Qvale said.

“He's picking up the offense really well,” Qvale said. “We've embraced it. We need more guys who can step up and play. That keeps us fresher. Matt has a good mental outlook. And I think he's embraced the work ethic needed to play here at Nebraska.”

Green moves over to safety

Senior Andrew Green will start training camp playing almost exclusively at safety. He's started more games than any other NU defender, but he did so at corner.

“I know it's kinda late, but whatever's best for the team,” Green said. “I feel like I'm a fast learner…I kinda like having the vision of seeing everything.”

Green's unsure whether he'll play strong safety or free safety.

Pensick OK on the move

Senior Cole Pensick is a full-time center.

Well, maybe.

Anything is possible. The only reason he ended up entering the top rotation as a reserve guard last fall was because he spontaneously volunteered to take second-team reps during a preseason practice.

“It's really up to the coaches, what they want,” Pensick said.

He said he spent the summer taking most of his reps as a center, though transitioning back and forth isn't too difficult, he said. “Center and guard, there's really not a whole lot of difference,” Pensick said.

Easy for a veteran like Pensick to say.

Redshirt freshman Paul Thurston is experiencing the expected growing pains for younger players trying to learn the center position. He'll take reps behind Pensick and junior Mark Pelini during training camp, with plenty of opportunities to learn.

Thurston has revealed some of his potential already, Pensick said.

“He's coming along great,” Pensick said. “He's getting the offense down.”

Ankrah likes look of line

Nebraska's young defensive linemen pass the eye-test, senior end Jason Ankrah said.

That's the first difference he notices between this year and last.

“We look good — because we're more athletic,” he said.

The challenge now, though, is for the newbies to learn the system and apply all of the playbook's concepts.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins, defensive tackle Kevin Maurice and defensive end A.J. Natter are among the true freshmen who have made a positive impression so far, Ankrah said.

“I'm really excited to see all of us work this upcoming week when camp starts,” Ankrah said.

Martinez among biggest draws

On Memorial Stadium's new turf with the expanded East Stadium structure serving as an eye-catching backdrop, the Nebraska football team signed autographs for more than 90 minutes at its annual Fan Day event Friday afternoon.

Coach Bo Pelini, defensive coordinator John Papuchis, offensive coordinator Tim Beck, quarterback Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and other running backs and more players made it a point to stay at least 15 to 20 minutes longer to sign items for an estimated 6,000. Some fans were waiting in line before sunrise.

They brought posters, jerseys, helmets, footballs and pictures to sign. Players and coaches were at various corners of the field, stationed under tents according to position. They posed for photos and engaged in short conversations. One fan brought a life-sized cardboard cutout of Martinez. Another had a red high heel for players to sign.

The longest line of the afternoon appeared to be for Martinez and the quarterbacks. It stretched from the northwest corner of an end zone, down the west sideline and well into the southwest tunnel.

* * *

Video: See Wide receiver Jamal Turner talks to the media Friday:


Video: I-back Ameer Abdullah talks to the media Friday:


Video: Nebraska Fan Day 2013::

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

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