We're counting down our Top 25 Big Ten players for the 2013 season. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.
The next man in the rundown stepped in for "Superman" in 2012 and delivered some heroics of his own ...
No. 13: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska, junior, 5-foot-9, 190 pounds
2012 postseason ranking: No. 20
2012 numbers: Carried 226 times for 1,137 rush yards with eight touchdowns; 24 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns; 17 kick returns for 360 yards; 16 punt returns for 209 yards and a touchdown (81 yards)
Why he's here: Quarterback Taylor Martinez's development might have been the biggest reason for Nebraska's offensive surge in 2012, but Abdullah's emergence in the backfield also played a significant role. The Huskers expected to ride Rex Burkhead like they had in 2011, but Burkhead missed most of the season with knee problems. Abdullah had been primarily a returner in 2011 but transitioned well to the featured back role for the Huskers.
The Alabama native recorded six 100-yard performances, averaged at least five yards per carry in eight contests and reached the end zone in seven of Nebraska's first nine games. He continued to be a threat in the return game and finished fourth in the Big Ten and 31st nationally in all-purpose yards (134.6 per game). Abdullah earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches.
The junior once again joins Martinez as Nebraska is one of just two FBS teams to return two 1,000-yard rushers from last season. He enters the fall as the team's clear-cut No. 1 back and will need to take on a heavy carries load as the Huskers lack depth at running back. "I'm hungry, just as hungry as I was my freshman year, and I'm anxious to prove things that I feel I need to prove," Abdullah told the Associated Press.
Abdullah's production slowed a bit toward the end of 2012 as Nebraska faced better competition, so it will be interesting to see how her performs in November, as the Huskers begin their defining stretch against Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State.
No. 25: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
No. 24: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
No. 15: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
No. 14: Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern