When Roy Helu Jr. was running for the Huskers, he didn’t get a ton of carries but he was always making the best of his opportunities. Twice in his career he averaged over six yards per carry, and his junior season he averaged 5.2. Helu was quite a home run threat for the Huskers, and when he left, I personally thought his absence would leave a huge void in the running game.
Enter junior Rex Burkhead, a 5’11″ 210 pound kid out of Plano, Texas who is playing some great football this season after having only 253 carries prior to this season, which might seem like a lot, but for Nebraska, it’s really not.
Burkhead showed a lot of promise as a reserve in his first two seasons with the Huskers, scoring 10 touchdowns on the ground and another through the air.
This season, Burkhead is the featured back in Nebraska’s offense, and he is playing great football. He has carried the rock 107 times for 635 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging just under six yards a carry and proving to the rest of the country that he is a legit pro prospect, not just a capable replacement for Roy Helu Jr.
To answer the question of the headline, I do not exactly think that Burkhead is similar to Helu in that I don’t believe he has 4.4 speed, but I think he is as good of a playmaker because of his vision and deceptive power.
Against Ohio State, Burkhead helped key a Nebraska comeback with his most polished all-around game of the season: 119 yards rushing and a touchdown, five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. He really impressed me and I know he impressed NFL scouts as well.
My guess is that Burkhead comes back to Nebraska for his senior year next year, so he’s not on the NFL radar for 2012 unless he has a monster second half and feels like he should. For now, I think I see a lot of promise in this kid and he could be a solid NFL back if he continues to show this kind of ability. Look for him to have another huge game against Minnesota on Saturday.