Abdullah and Tolbert Opt for Nebraska
The Huskers received a pair of commitments (of differing varieties) yesterday. All-conference running back Ameer Abdullah announced his intention to return to Nebraska for his senior season. That move alone solidifies NU's ability to contend for a division title next year. Looking further down the road, New Orleans wide receiver Jariah Tolbert gave his commitment to Nebraska for the recruiting class of 2014.
It's hard to overstate the value of Abdullah's return. Not only is he the most talented player on the team, he might be neck and neck with Braxton Miller as the best player in the conference (if not the nation). If that seems like an exagerration, note that if Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey opts for the NFL (as some expect) Abdullah will be the leading returning rusher in the nation from 2013.
The main question will be how much additional risk Abdullah and the coaching staff want to take on in the pursuit of a Heisman or other records. A healthy Abdullah will have an opportunity to displace Mike Rozier in the record books as NU's all-time leading rusher, a mark only Ahman Green and Calvin Jones (both early departees to the NFL) ever came as close to following their junior season. He can also displace Johnny Rodgers for career all-purpose yards. When you outpace a pair of Heisman trophy winners, it's reasonable to be mentioned as a legitimate Heisman candidate.
Tolbert is sort of an under the radar player who emerged as a senior (many players are evaluated and ranked much earlier after their junior seasons). So far he's been offered a scholarship by Utah and a number of smaller conference schools. His body type reminds you of Maurice Purify or Brandon Kinnie. Tolbert's a little lighter, but is apparently serious about weightlifting, so by his third year (like Purify and Kinnie after stints at junior colleges) could reach 215 lbs. Both Purify and Kinnie caught more than 80 balls, which certainly rises to the level of a scholarship worthy player. You like his ability to both block on running plays and compete for contested balls thrown his way. Don't let the lack of stars by his name fool you, he is a good find.
Both players still have some time to change their minds, so their pick of NU isn't written in stone. Still, the odds look pretty good for keeping both players. An all-timer and an up-and-comer.