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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Burkhead for Heisman Talk Starting Early

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Erin Sorensen
The 2011 regular season was a big one for Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead. On the field, his numbers were impressive – 1,268 yards and 15 touchdowns. Off the field, his dedication to the community was equally outstanding. Burkhead became known as the most beloved Husker since the late Brook Berringer.
Cornhusker fans already recognize how special the junior I-Back is. What will it take to get Burkhead recognized on the national stage in 2012? Better yet, what will it take for him to win the coveted Heisman Trophy?
I posed the question on Twitter and received many responses:
@CBeck_23: Start campaigning now
This isn’t a bad idea. While any campaigning won’t necessarily come from Burkhead himself, it is definitely an opportunity for fans to get the ball rolling. There are already many Twitter and Facebook accounts created that are dedicated to the movement, so it appears fans think it’s not too early. If the "Rex for Heisman" talk doesn’t grow louder in the off-season, expect it to come August of 2012.
@fischmf68: He needs to continue doing what he is doing and stay healthy. He also needs the team to be successful in the B1G champ and the National Championship pictures. The more successful the team is the more exposure he gets.
A Big Ten championship certainly wouldn’t hurt Burkhead’s chances. I wouldn’t say national championship talk is required, but a BCS bowl berth would be. The Huskers have been consistently been on the outside looking in of BCS bowl games since 2001, so this is a crucial element. Nebraska getting into a high-caliber bowl would definitely escalate the press around the program, and around Burkhead by proxy.
@huskerbrad10: Nebraska would have to win B1G and Burkhead would need at least 1700 yards and 20 TDs
Burkhead could definitely hit high numbers in 2012 if given the opportunity. It will require a stellar game plan to make it happen, if not one focused entirely on the junior I-Back. It cannot be about running Burkhead to the ground for the sake of doing so, however. It will be about balancing out his running numbers. Hitting 1,700 yards may be asking a lot considering the young talent the Huskers have, but scoring 20 touchdowns is not. Aiming for 100-yard games should be the goal. Any more than that and the workhorse may tire out early.
@TheRedOne93: The most important factor will be the team's success-likely one loss or less-After that it's just #RexBeingRex
The win-loss record will be a factor. If Nebraska loses too many games, they become more and more irrelevant on the big stage. However, Ndamukong Suh was invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York City despite being part of a team that wasn’t perfect. He may not have won, but that invite spoke volumes. Burkhead will be invited with or without a perfect season by the Huskers. Actually winning it is a different story.
@knapplc: The nastiest O Line we've had in the last fifteen years.
The offensive line is going to play a huge part in Burkhead’s success. If anything, the 2011 season proved the line can get the job done. It wasn’t always perfect, but the big bodies up front performed far better than was expected. That should provide hope for Husker fans that will be looking for them to have a repeat, if not improved, performance order to let Burkhead run free.
@BrandonJanky: His YPC will have to increase and more TD runs longer than 20.
It wouldn’t hurt for Burkhead to have longer runs, especially for touchdowns. However, Montee Ball did snag a Heisman invite by adding up the short touchdown drives. Ball didn’t win the Heisman though and that could have been a factor. For Burkhead, longer runs would not hurt one bit. If anything, it would get the attention focused on him earlier in the season, which is crucial.
Burkhead has a lot of work ahead of him to make any Heisman dreams come true. If the workhorse can stay injury free, the potential for a December trip to the Big Apple is there. Until then, both fans and media will be watching closely as Burkhead begins his campaign for the 2012 Heisman whether he’s aware one exists or not.
Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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