Written by Kate Hairopoulos
Ex-Plano star Burkhead feels super again at Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. - This Superman is not unbreakable, but he heals faster than expected.
And he possesses impeccable timing.
Rex Burkhead reluctantly, but good-naturedly, accepted the nickname observers stuck him with as he compiled more than 6,000 all-purpose yards in his career at Plano. Now, as a freshman running back at Nebraska, he's returned from a broken bone in his foot to aid the Cornhuskers' attempt to upset No. 3 Texas on Saturday in the Big 12 championship game. Nebraska would earn its first BCS bowl berth since 2001 with a victory.
The Huskers and their ultra-conservative offense must be able to run against the nation's top-ranked rushing defense to have a chance.
Burkhead is coming off the first 100-yard rushing game of his career as he returns home to North Texas to play for big stakes in Arlington's new Cowboys Stadium.
"I had many memorable games in the old Texas Stadium, so getting to play in the new one is going to be fun," he said.
Perhaps the setup wouldn't be so sweet - yes, ticket requests from friends are flooding in - if Burkhead hadn't spent five games unable to play while a boot encased his right foot, on which he broke the fifth metatarsal bone.
"I was just making an everyday cut," Burkhead said of the break, which occurred during practice Oct. 12. "I knew something wasn't right."
To that point, he'd been coming along fine, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown and catching eight passes for 68 yards and a TD in five games backing up junior Roy Helu.
NU fans embraced the borderline legendary status Burkhead earned while playing in football-crazy Texas.
"He's a special young man," Huskers coach Bo Pelini said. "Just look at what he did when he was in high school. ... He's just a football player. He has all the characteristics I want in a player."
Burkhead, who considered Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech during the recruiting process, ended up heading north, he said, because he felt most comfortable at Nebraska.
Here, he's an I-back, a nod to the program's illustrious tradition of running the football.
Burkhead was expected to miss six to eight weeks because of his injury. He was ready to go in five.
He returned full-strength last Friday at Colorado and made his mark on a fourth-quarter scoring drive. He rushed nine times for 55 yards and the touchdown that put the game away.
"I kind of felt like I was in high school again, getting into a little rhythm," Burkhead said. "Anytime you have the opportunity to get the ball in your hands, it's great. That's what you feed off and what you want."