For those questioning why the University of Nebraska is launching a site touting running back Rex Burkhead to hoist the prestigious Heisman Trophy – You’re missing the point.
As a fan of Burkhead, I want to say he has a chance, but knowing how often the recipe for the eventual winner changes, I don’t believe he does.
That’s not the goal of a “Rex for Heisman” website or any campaign that may result following its launch. This is an unofficial dedication, a tribute, a statewide tip of the cap.
Yes, Rex Burkhead is marketable. He sells, has a charming smile that makes the ladies swoon and is great in front of a microphone. However, the media and attention he’ll bring to Lincoln in 2012 shouldn’t be viewed as a spotlight for any hardware he ends his career with.
It seems like just yesterday he had bounced back following a broken foot with a so-so effort against Kansas State, and an eye-popping 100-yard day against Colorado. That was 2009. How time flies.
With Suh, Helu, Jr., Crick, David and Dennard all gone, Rex’s spotlight outshines even that of the starting quarterback. I don’t speak for Burkhead, but I feel comfortable in suggesting that he’d rather I give this column’s attention to Taylor Martinez.
Burkhead may periodically dodge the media’s spotlight, but he’ll have much more difficulty doing the same against Big Ten defenders this fall. Taylor Martinez may be under center, but this Cornhusker team is led by a boy from Plano, Texas and everyone – including defensive coordinators – knows it.
Defenses have been able to stuff Martinez thus far, but try as they might, no one seems to have figured out how to consistently take No. 22 down for a loss. He nearly always gets back to the line of scrimmage, at the very least.
Off the field, he’s a kind, friendly young man who’ll stop to take pictures, sign autographs or chat with anyone.
While bringing attention to his inspiration, Jack Hoffman, Burkhead has ignited what can only properly be termed as a Team Jack movement.
Rex Burkhead will likely not win the Heisman Trophy, but he deserves something.
For all he’s done and will do for the University of Nebraska and its fans, he merits recognition far beyond a firm handshake come Senior Day.
By setting up this campaign, his university is ensuring that regardless of whether the Nebraska Cornhuskers win the national championship, a BCS bowl, the Big Ten or even the Legends division, there will be at least one member of the team that will stand tall. The irony is that Burkhead would feel he’d let the team down if that were the case.
The last player that I remember admiring as an individual to this extent had a bright future, as well. Like his running back counterpart, he was also headed to the NFL for a likely comfortable stay.
Unfortunately, we never got to see what Brook Berringer would’ve done as a professional quarterback. To this day Husker fans remember him not so much as a football player, but as a quality human being, someone they’d be proud to call their son.
In the end, I believe Rex Burkhead will be remembered in the same fashion. What he and Berringer share in common, you simply cannot encase in bronze and hoist from a podium in New York.
Regardless of what happens in 2012, I’ll have been one of the millions who saw Rex Burkhead’s career.
He’s earned earned something far more prestigious than any trophy: respect.