Imagine you were just drafted, had the highest recorded SPARQ score, you are bustling with excitement and accosted with expectations. Rookie Camp is where competition begins at the next level for all the drafted players, those who got signed out of free agency, and others from lower tier school likes Eastern Michigan and Kent University who are invited to come out to try and impress the coaching staff. All of them wishing and dreaming of potentially earning a spot on the roster. But that in and of itself is a long and arduous process, mini-camp’s are just the first step in the process.
Ameer Abdullah is very familiar with the process of getting a shot, and working extremely hard to prove himself. Always willing to try and improve every facet of his game while being a leader and team player. As a player coming out of high school in Alabama, he was not regarded as a running back recruit. As he is a leaner guy who is only 5’9 with great speed, scouts assessed his talent level and figured he had the highest upside as a cornerback. He was regarded as a three star recruit, that coaches such as Nick Saban and Guz Malzahn wanted to have and to play cornerback. Abdullah says that it really hurt him that his dream school Auburn didn’t share the same vision he had, being a runningback. He intimated to the fact that this literally ate him up from the inside. I guess this just added fuel to the proverbial fire.
Sticking to his guns, Abdullah didn’t deviate from what he ultimately aspired to do. He was going to play running back for a school and nothing was going to stop him. Eventually, towards the end of the recruiting cycle, he was visited by the late Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. Pelini didn’t offer any promises or promote any sort of false hope. All he did was sincerely tell Abdullah that he would give him a shot to prove himself. A chance to compete for a spot. This was good enough for Ameer, as he was confident in the fact that, given an opportunity, he would excel and get a chance to play his intended position, running back.
Every year, Abdullah has improved statistically in all offensive categories. Obvious deduction is that he is teachable and intelligent. Starting off as a back up running back and punt returner, he eventually made it to the starting rotation and was considered a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy his senior season. I expect he will be splitting time with Joique Bell this season. As Joique Bell is more of a power runner, Ameer possesses some of the intangibles that were shown off by the late Reggie Bush. He has a high propensity to break something open and be an integral part of this Lion’s offense. Don’t be surprised if by mid-season he ends up being the starter.
In recent news at the Detroit Lion’s mini-camp, Abdullah was seen fielding punts. It seems there is a good chance he could start off fielding kicks, but he would have to beat the incumbent Jeremy Ross who had a season last year that left much to be desired. Ross averaged almost 9 yards a return and muffed a few punts at the end of the season. Abdullah returned punts in his freshman and sophomore year as a Cornhusker, recording a healthy 10.2 yards per return and even scoring a touchdown. If you haven’t seen this guy in action, feel free to view the video below.