Career Recap: The Cornhuskers standout has been a tough runner the past two seasons. Burkhead broke out with a quality sophomore season in 2010 with 951 yards rushing (5.5 average) and seven touchdowns. Nebraska moved to the Big Ten last year, but its tougher run defenses didn't hold him back in his second season.
Burkhead has been named an All-Big Ten selection for his 2011 season. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry with 1,357 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Burkhead had big games against Michigan State (130 yards and two touchdowns) and Iowa (160 yards rushing and two scores). He has also contributed well as a receiver, snagging 49 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
Off the field, Burkhead has been a team leader and a high-character individual who has been active in community charity work.
2012 Season Outlook:
Burkhead should be in store for a big senior season. Nebraska has a quality offensive line and a good supporting cast around him. With good experience to build off of, Burkhead could total 1,500 yards rushing as a senior.
Burkhead has an interesting skill set. Just looking at him one would probably be inclined to think that he is a power back in the mold of Toby Gerhart or Mike Alstott. While Burkhead definitely has the physicality to run over some defenders, he is smaller and quicker than most realize.
Burkhead really is an option runner who picks up good yards going around the edge and cutting downfield. He can be a one-cut downhill runner. Burkhead is not a heavy back, he is a true running back and not a potential fullback. The Cornhusker is a halfback who could be part of a good stable of backs in the NFL.
An underrated aspect about Burkhead's game is his receiving ability. He has done well as a receiver for Nebraska on limited opportunities. Burkhead has the potential to be a good third-down back at the next level. The ball-carrier just needs to learn blitz protection, which should be no problem for him, to complete his skills in the passing game. Between his short-yardage and third-down skills, he could be a nice situational back.
There are questions around Burkhead as a prospect. He will have to transition to a pro-style offense in the NFL. Nebraska's option attack is a collegiate system that produces good totals regardless of the back. Burkhead has a nice burst and quickness for the college game, but may not be quick enough to be starter in the NFL. He needs to prove he has that speed as a senior to get drafted highly.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Burkhead's stock is fluid. Right now, he could go anywhere from the second through the fourth round. Burkhead needs a dominant senior season to be a second-round pick. At worst, he should be a mid-rounder as long as he stays healthy.