Nebraska I-back Rex Burkhead has established himself as one of the nation’s top running backs on the field heading into his senior season in 2012. Burkhead enters his senior season with 2,654 career rushing yards, good for 12th in school history. He is poised to make a run at the No. 2 spot on that chart as a senior. He has also distinguished himself as one of the top student-athletes in the country, both in the classroom and through his community outreach efforts.
Burkhead put together one of the top rushing seasons in Nebraska history in 2011. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after carrying a heavy workload for the Nebraska rushing attack. Burkhead amassed 1,357 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns as a junior. His 104.4 rushing yards per game ranked third in the Big Ten and 19th nationally. Burkhead reached the end zone in each of the season’s first 10 games and 11 of 13 contests overall, while his 7.9 points per game placed him second in the conference.
Burkhead finished his junior season with seven 100-yard rushing games, including five in Big Ten Conference play. One of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, Burkhead’s 1,357 rushing yards were the seventh most in a season in NU history, the most by a Husker since 2002 and the most by a Nebraska running back since 1997. Burkhead carried the ball at least 20 times in eight games in 2011, including six of eight Big Ten games. In the regular-season finale against Iowa, Burkhead had a Nebraska record 38 rushing attempts for 160 yards. He also racked up 35 carries in a win over Michigan State and had a career-high 170 rushing yards at Wyoming. Burkhead’s 284 carries in 2011 were just two shy of the season record of 286 by Lawrence Phillips in 1994. Burkhead also showed his receiving ability with 21 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
In his sophomore campaign, Burkhead played in all 14 games with two starts and earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors, as he finished with 951 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Burkhead’s role increased in the final six games. At Iowa State, Burkhead took a number of snaps out of the Wildcat and rushed 20 times for a season-high 129 yards and two touchdowns. He capped his effort with a 19-yard touchdown in overtime as NU escaped with a 31-30 win. Against Colorado, Burkhead did it all. He ran for 101 yards on 19 carries and completed two passes for 30 yards and two touchdowns–a 26-yarder to Brandon Kinnie and a 4-yard TD to Kyler Reed. Burkhead also rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries and had a touchdown pass against Oklahoma in the 2010 Big 12 Championship Game.
Burkhead was one of six true freshmen to see action, and he finished as NU’s second-leading rusher with 346 yards and three touchdowns, despite playing in just nine games. Burkhead rushed 18 times for 100 yards and a touchdown vs. Colorado. His touchdown came in the fourth quarter, capping a drive that saw him rush nine times for 55 yards. In the Holiday Bowl, Burkhead had 17 carries for 89 yards and scored a touchdown.
Before Nebraska, Burkhead was a standout performer for Plano High School. He helped Plano to a 10-2 record and the Class 5A state playoffs in 2008, rushing for 1,762 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also caught 42 passes for 594 yards and five touchdowns. During his junior season, Burkhead rushed for 1,768 yards and 29 touchdowns and caught 47 passes. His play helped Plano to a 13-2 record and a trip to the 5A state semifinals. Burkhead also ran for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns and passed for more than 600 yards as a sophomore.
Rex was born on July 2, 1990, and is the son of Rick and Robyn Burkhead. He is majoring in secondary education-social science. Burkhead was a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American and an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2011. He was also a first-team academic All-Big 12 pick in 2010 and was a three-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll pick. Burkhead is also one of Nebraska’s most active student-athletes in the community. He is a three-time member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team and was selected one of Nebraska’s Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award winners in 2012. He was also chosen as one of Uplifting Athletes Champions of 2011-12, for helping to put a national focus on helping children with rare diseases. His outreach work has included team hospital visits, the Madonna Wheelchair Football Workshop, the FCA and the Irving Rec Center.
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