Ameer Abdullah (born June 13, 1993) is an American football running back for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Nebraska.[83] In 2013, Abdullah rushed for 1,690 yards, fourth most in Nebraska history.[84] He decided not to enter the NFL Draft at the end of his junior year, but instead to return for his senior season.[84][85][86][87] He was considered a contender for the 2014 Heisman Trophy.[89] He is a native of Homewood, Alabama.[91]

High school career

During his senior year of high school, Abdullah had 1,800 yards rushing, 515 yards receiving, and four punt returns for touchdowns.[91] He was the 2010 South region player of the year.[83] In the 2010 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, he scored the winning touchdown in overtime.[83]

Also a track star at Homewood, he ran a career-best time of 11.15 seconds in the 100 meters at the 2011 AHSAA 6A Section 3 Championships, placing 7th in the prelims. He also competed in the long jump; he had a career-best leap of 6.60 meters.[83]

College career

College decision

Abdullah was offered football scholarships from several schools, but schools such as Alabama and Auburn wanted him to play cornerback, while he wanted to be a running back.[23] Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, however, while making no guarantees, told him that they would put him in a position that would maximize his talent. Pelini's view was the critical factor in choosing Nebraska.[23]

2011

Abdullah was one of six true freshman to play for Nebraska in the 2011 season. His best game was against Fresno State when he had 228 return yards. He had 211 kickoff return yards including a 100-yard touchdown return. Abdullah's total kickoff return yards broke the previous Nebraska record. His best running total was 36 yards and his longest run was 24 yards, both against the Wyoming Cowboys.[91]

2012

After Rex Burkhead was injured, Abdullah started seven games. His first start was against UCLA and he rushed for 119 yards with two touchdowns. His longest run was 45 yards against Arkansas State. He had 252 all-purpose yards against Wisconsin, which included five kickoffs totaling 142 yards, 10 rushes for 70 yards, and 22 yards receiving. Against Penn State, he rushed for 116 yards and 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his college career. His per game average of 134.5 all-purpose yards ranked fourth in the Big Ten Conference and his per game average of 81.2 rushing yards ranked ninth.[91]

2013

Abdullah rushed for over 100 yards in 11 of 13 games (including the Gator Bowl). The 10, 100-yard games during the regular season placed him fourth in Nebraska school history. He achieved a career-high rushing against Illinois of 225 yards. For the season, he rushed for an average of 130.7 yards per game, which ranked him second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally. He had 232 yards in pass receptions and averaged 154.9 all-purpose yards per game, which also ranked him second in the Big Ten. He was placed on the All-Big Ten first-team by both the conference’s coaches and media. He was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.[91]

After Abdullah played in the Gator Bowl, he considered whether he should enter the 2014 NFL Draft as an underclassman.[83] On 9 January 2014, he decided to stay at Nebraska for his senior season, stating that

I have come to realize that life is bigger than football... and that my chances of long-term success in life will be greatly enhanced by completing my college education. … If playing in the NFL is truly in God’s plans for me, then God will again present this opportunity to me after I complete my college education.[83]

2014

 

Sporting News listed Abdullah among their top 10 candidates for the Heisman trophy in 2014[83] and they list Abdullah as the number 4 returning running back.[83] In late September, 2014, Eric Galko and Ian Wharton of Sporting News analyzed his running attributes. They concluded that even though his 40-yard time is not below 4.4 second and he does not possess the most power when running, he is a complete running back. He runs very low, below the pad level of defenders, making him very difficult to tackle. Abdullah has great balance, vision to find holes and the patience to wait for his blockers to those open holes. These running characteristics together with his burst, shiftiness in space, and ability to keep his legs moving when hit, make him "the most well-rounded tailback in the country".[94]

In early September, 2014, Nebraska sent out AA batteries to members of the sports news media and created a website for Abdullah to promote his Heisman campaign.[83]

Both Abdullah and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston trained together at the same gym in Birmingham, Alabama. On September 22, 2014, Abdullah commented how Winston could avoid controversies in the future.[95]

Think before you act. Understand the bigger picture. Everything that you do, say or how you present yourself can have dire consequences. That's something I feel like he definitely needs to assess more.[95]

In December, 2014, Abdullah received the Senior CLASS Award for the most outstanding senior college football player in Division I based on classroom performance, community contributions, personal character, and athletic achievements. Players are selected based on votes from FBS football coaches, media, and fans.[118]

Florida Atlantic

Abdullah ran for a career-high 232 rushing yards on 21 carries for an average of 11 yards per carry in a 55-7 win over Florida Atlantic. His longest run was 47 yards for a touchdown. He also caught one pass for 9 yards. On September 1, he won Big Ten offensive player of the week.[96]

McNeese State

Abdullah ran for 67 yards on 17 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per carry in a 31-24 win over the McNeese State Cowboys. His longest run was for 19 yards. He caught 3 passes for 96 yards and his 58-yard run after his last catch with 20 seconds left in the game put Nebraska up by a touchdown and was the game-winning score.

Fresno State

Abdullah ran for 110 yards on 19 carries for an average of 5.8 yards per carry in a 55-19 win over the Fresno State Bulldogs. During the first quarter, he had a 57-yard rushing touchdown.[37]

Miami

 

Abdullah ran for 229 yards on 35 carries for an average of 6.5 yards per carry with two touchdowns in a 41-31 win over Miami Hurricanes. His 35 carries were a career-high and his last touchdown sealed the win. His longest run was 26 yards and he caught one pass for three yards and a touchdown.[97][98] Abdullah also had 313 all-purpose yards, which broke Nebraska's 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers's record of 5,586 career all-purpose yards. Abdullah's career total reached 5,762 yards.[99] On September 22, 2014, Abdullah was Big Ten co-offensive player for week four, sharing honors with Melvin Gordon.[44]

Illinois

Abdullah ran for 208 yards on 22 carries for an average of 9.5 yards per carry with three touchdowns in a 45-14 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini. He rushed for 196 yards by halftime. His longest run was for 28 yards and he had four runs of 20 yards or more before halftime.[45] On September 29, 2014, Abdullah was named Big Ten player offensive player of the week.[85]

Michigan State

Abdullah was held to 45 yards rushing on 24 attempts for an average of 1.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns in a 27–22 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. He also had two pass receptions for 22 yards.[85]

Northwestern

Abdullah ran for 146 yards on 23 carries for an average of 6.3 yards per carry with four touchdowns in a 38–17 win over the Northwestern Wildcats. He was held to 39 yards at halftime, but rushed for 107 yards in the second half including a 50-yard rush at the beginning of the fourth quarter that set up his third touchdown. He also had 4 pass receptions for 13 yards.[85][85]

Rutgers

Image
 
Ameer Abdullah running for a touchdown in the fourth quarter during the Nebraska against Miami on September 9, 2014.
Abdullah turning the corner on his third touchdown run.
 
Abdullah crossing the 20 yard line.
 
Abdullah heading to the end zone for his second touchdown.
 
Abdullah crosses the goal line.
 

Abdullah ran for 225 yards on 19 carries for an average of 11.8 yards per carry with four touchdowns in a 42–24 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. In the first half, Abdullah had runs of 53 and 48 yards for touchdowns on two consecutive series. In the second half, he ran for 49 yards on the first play of the half and Tommy Armstrong Jr. subsequently threw a touchdown pass for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Abdullah ran 23 yards for his third touchdown of the game. He also caught two passes for 26 yards and he returned two kickoffs for 90 yards. His 341 all-purpose yards set a new record for all-purpose yards at Nebraska.[85]

On Monday, October 27, Abdullah was named Big 10 offensive player of the week for the fourth time in the 2014 season.[85] He named to the Paul Hornung Award honor roll for the third time during the 2014 season.[85] He was also named Week 9 player of the week by Athlon Sports.[85]

Purdue

Abdullah ran for only one yard on six carries before he was injured in the first quarter in a 35–14 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. Pelini told reporters after the game that Abdullah had suffered a "mild" MCL sprain and bruise when he tried to recover a fumbled snap by the quarter back on a fourth down at the Purdue 1-yardline. When asked, Pelini said that he was optimistic that Abdullah would be ready to play the Wisconsin Badgers on November 15, but he added he couldn't say for sure whether he would be able to play.[85]

College statistics

Rushing and receiving statistics by year.[91][2]

 RushingReceiving
YearAttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsAvgLngTD
2011421503.624311111110
20122261,1375.0458241787.4262
20132811,6906.0629262328.9402
20142641,6116.157192226912.2583
Career8134,5885.66239736909.5587

Punt, kick return, and all-purpose yardage statistics by year.[91][86]

 Punt ReturnsKick ReturnsAll-Purpose
YearAttYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDAttYdsAveTD
2011151077.102676329.31841,03112.34
20121620913.111736021.202831,9046.711
201300047719.303111,9996.411
20140001127224.702972,1527.222
Career3131610.21591,49224.919757,0867.348

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
HtWtArm lengthHand size40‑yd dash10-yd split20-yd split20‑ss3‑coneVert jumpBroadBP
5 ft 9 in
(1.75 m)
205 lb
(93 kg)
10 in
(0.25 m)
8 58 in
(0.22 m)
4.60 s1.48 s2.63 s3.95 s6.79 s42.5 in
(1.08 m)
10 ft 10 in
(3.30 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Combine, 40-yard dash from Pro Day[86]

Abdullah was drafted in the second round with the 54th overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft.[86]

On May 14, 2015, the Detroit Lions signed Abdullah to a four-year, $4.15 million contract with $1.85 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.28 million.[86]

Abdullah began his rookie season as the Detroit Lions' third running back on their depth chart behind veterans Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. He made his professional regular season debut in the Lion's season opener against the San Diego Chargers, finishing with seven carries for 50 rushing yards and four catches for 44 receiving yards. He scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard rushing touchdown of the first quarter of the 28-33 loss to the Chargers.[86] The following week, he had his first career start against the Minnesota Vikings and finished the 16-26 loss with six carries for nine yards. On September 27, 2015, Abdullah had eight rushing attempts for 23 rushing yards and made two catches to 19 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 12-24 loss to the Denver Broncos. He caught his first career touchdown reception on a 16-yard pass from Matt Stafford. In Week 12, he made his second career start and rushed for 63 yards on a season-high 16 carries, while also making one reception for 12 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. He remained the starting running back for the rest of the season. On December 21, 2015, Abdullah had nine carries for a season-high 77 rushing yards and scored his second rushing touchdown of the season against the New Orleans Saints. He finished his rookie season with a total of 143 carries, 597 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 25 receptions, 183 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown while starting nine games and playing in all 16.[102]

He began his second season as the Detroit Lions' starting running back for the beginning of the regular season. In the season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Abdullah had 12 carries for 63 rushing yards and caught five passes for 57 receiving yards and a touchdown as the Lions defeated the Colts 37-35.[86] On September 18, 2016, he had six rushing attempts for 38 rushing yards against the Tennessee Titans before suffering an injury to his foot and leaving the game. It was later discovered he tore a ligament in his left foot and would miss the remainder of the season.[86] On September 21, 2016, the Detroit Lions placed Abdullah on injured reserve.[86]

On September 18, 2017, against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, Abdullah had 17 carries for a then career-high 86 yards in the 24–10 victory.[86]

Personal life

Abdullah was born on June 13, 1993 in Homewood, Alabama, the son of Kareem and Aisha Abdullah, and the youngest of nine children.[87] He majored in History at the University of Nebraska [91] and is a devout Muslim.[87]