July 20, 2010

Fall camp preview: Running backs lead the way

There are plenty of questions waiting to be answered throughout Nebraska's roster heading into fall camp. Running back, however, is definitely not one of them.

With a backfield loaded with both talent and experience, the Huskers' offense will once again be led by its running game this season. Here's a look at how things stand for NU's backs as fall camp quickly approaches.

Biggest question: Will Helu stay at No. 1?

Nebraska may feature the as good of a one-two punch at running back as any team in the Big 12 Conference with senior Roy Helu and sophomore Rex Burkhead. While both will obviously contribute plenty this season, it will be interesting to see if Helu maintains his spot atop of the depth chart. Burkhead finished the year as well as any player on the roster last season, and if his progression continues at this pace there's no reason he can't jump Helu and win the starting job. Regardless of the outcome, this is one issue Nebraska doesn't mind dealing with one bit.

What we know right now: All three backs will play

Whoever ends up winning the starting job won't change the fact that Nebraska is going to rotate heavy doses of Helu, Burkhead and sophomore Dontrayevous Robinson all season long. As if having Helu and Burkhead wasn't good enough, the Huskers have another back in Robinson who has proven he can be a more than effective runner in the Big 12. Considering all three running backs missed time due to injuries last season, there's no question that each will get their time in the spotlight at some point during the year.

Fresh fall camp faces: Braylon Heard?

Because of all that backfield depth, Nebraska only took one running back in its 2010 recruiting class. However, the chances of talented freshman Braylon Heard qualifying academically by the start of fall camp are looking slimmer by the day. While it will obviously be disappointing not to have a player with Heard's potential in camp, it's not like he had much of a chance to see the field this year anyway because of all the established backs ahead of him.
Early camp prediction

Staying healthy will obviously be key, but I'm expecting some big things out of Nebraska's running backs this year, and it all starts this fall. With the addition of the Wildcat offense likely to become a new permanent wrinkle in Shawn Watson's play calling, Helu, Burkhead and Robinson will all get their share of reps and could even all be on the field at the same time in some packages. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff divvies up the workload throughout the season and how the reps are distributed during fall practice.

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