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CHICAGO - As we sit here today and talk about what the future holds for college football, senior Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah gave his own take during the Big Ten's Kickoff Luncheon at the Hilton Chicago on Tuesday.
Abdullah was the player selected by the Big Ten to represent the league at this year's kickoff luncheon, and instead of talking about unions or how much money athletes should get paid, Abdullah titled his speech "The Essence of a Student Athlete."
"To me the true essence of a student athlete is someone that has the desire educate themselves athletically, academically and personally," Abdullah said.
Abdullah then went on to talk about how he was actually educated athletically when he first got to Nebraska in 2011.
Abdullah was one of three star freshmen running backs on the roster, but they all sat behind Rex Burkhead.
What Abdullah remembers was how he soon realized he wasn't the best player on the team any more. For a lot of guys they have a hard time with this.
During a scrimmage that year it never hit home more than when former Husker All-American linebacker Lavonte David ran him down in the backfield on a toss play he thought might go for a touchdown.
"As I sat there, humiliated and embarrassed," Abdullah said. "In that moment, I learned a very valuable lesson that in life, there's always gonna be somebody stronger than you. There's always gonna be somebody faster than you. Oftentimes, there's gonna be somebody smarter than you but you cannot let that deter you from your goal. If someone is stronger than you, train harder. If someone is faster than you then you have to run smarter. If someone is smarter than you, you have to train longer and harder."
By cutting his teeth on special teams and getting limited carries in 2011 Abdullah learned what it took to succeed at Nebraska.
He was about the team and not his individual numbers. That attitude and mindset has carried him to where he's at today and every incoming freshman should watch Abdullah's speech and learn a thing or two from it.
"Every person on a team plays a very valuable role, and any person in a company for that matter plays a very important role," Abdullah said. "The overall success of the team doesn't depend not only on the starters, but everybody working together to accomplish a common goal. The academic education I received helps me form the essence of a student athlete."