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July 11, 2014

Husker Buzz: Abdullah gets a unique opportunity

On Thursday the Big Ten Conference announced the 42 different players that will participate in Big Ten Media Days on July 28 and 29 in Chicago.

Highlighting the event will be the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon where each year a different student athlete is selected to make a speech to represent the players in attendance.

The league selected Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah to make this year's speech that will be aired live on the Big Ten Network and replayed several times before the start of the season.

I'll admit when the Huskers first joined the Big Ten I didn't quite understand the importance of what it meant to be the player selected to talk at the luncheon, but after hearing Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins deliver his speech in 2011 I soon began to understand it's importance.

The Big Ten is more than just about football. It's about being a complete student athlete and Cousins was a perfect representation of what it meant to play in the Big Ten. His speech still gets talked about to this day.

Now Abdullah will get the opportunity to be the first Nebraska player selected to represent the league and its players before the start of the 2014 season. After Cousins, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson gave the speech in 2012 and Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel talked in 2013.

This is a chance for Abdullah to show the rest of the conference what type of person most Nebraska fans already know the Alabama native is. I always thought running back Rex Burkhead was qualified to give this speech in 2012, but Nebraska was so new to the league I felt like the Big Ten didn't want one of their new teams representing everybody in just its second year.

Abdullah is a guy that gave up NFL money to come back to Nebraska for his senior year so he could finish his education.

He comes from a family of nine where he's the youngest, a family where everybody had to work for what they got. Abdullah saw his brothers and sisters earn their way to successful careers as lawyers and doctors and he knows how important an education will be for him which is why he chose to come back.

I'm glad the conference recognized this and gave Abdullah the chance to tell his story to the rest of the Big Ten. There will be several people watching this event because of the addition of Maryland and Rutgers and Abdullah has a chance to really shine on the big stage and get his name out to even more people as the 2014 season begins.



No Randy Gregory in Chicago

It caught me a little by surprise that Nebraska chose to bring senior safety Corey Cooper to Big Ten Media Days over All-American defensive end candidate Randy Gregory.

Then again, the fact that Cooper is a Chicago native going into his fifth-year it does make sense why head coach Bo Pelini chose to bring him over Gregory.

Most coaches like to bring only seniors to conference media day events, and that's exactly what Pelini has done almost every year other than 2011 when he brought Burkhead as a junior.

Gregory will get plenty of press still in 2014, but I'm still surprised a potential top 10 NFL Draft pick won't be one of the players representing Nebraska in Chicago later this month.

Three and out

***Nebraska basketball sure looks smart now taking Georgetown transfer Moses Ayegba after the news broke about forward Leslie Smith's knee injury. NU's lack of size will continue to be a question for the Huskers in 2014, but we know they have multiple players who can score the basketball.

***Earlier this year I wrote about former Nebraska tennis player and head of Husker Vision Jeff Schmahl's battle with pancreatic cancer. A few days back Schmahl shared some great news on his blog that his tumor has shrunk by more than 50% and the spots on his liver shrunk by 25%. Schmahl was originally given less than a year to live by doctors, but with this recent news he has defied some major odds and continues fight his cancer. It will still be an uphill battle for Schmahl, but it's amazing to hear how well his treatments have gone for him.

***I had a great time fishing with legendary walleye fisherman Kent Hutcheson this week in Pierre, S.D. Hutcheson has fished with former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne, defensive coordinator Charlie McBride and offensive line coach Milt Tenopir countless times over the last 40 years and he shared several great stories about his time with them.

Hutch even traveled down to some bowl games and would take the coaches out fishing during down time. There were also Red-White spring games where he would come down so coaches like McBride and Osborne could immediately get in his car after the game ended to go on a spring fishing trip. He's a true Husker throwback and I highly recommend booking with his guide service in South Dakota if you love to fish and hear good Nebraska football stories. And yes we easily caught our limit of walleye each day under his guidance.

Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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