When Roy Helu signed with Nebraska in 2007 his name was put on the back burner for running backs like Marlon Lucky and Quentin Castille.
In fact, there was even speculation when Helu committed to Nebraska in September of 2006 he could possibly move to linebacker or safety.
Helu was always the guy people wanted to forget about, but finally he's getting the proper due he deserves.
In his rookie season with the Washington Redskins Helu has proven to be one of the bigger steals of the 2011 draft.
Over the last three weeks Helu has gone for over 100 yards against the Patriots (126 yards), Jets (100) and Seahawks (108). Helu's just not a runner though. In a game against the San Francisco 49ers he had a Redskins franchise record 14 receptions for 105 yards.
If there's one things certain about Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, it's he knows how to evaluate running backs coming out of college. Shanahan has proven that with the late round success he had in the draft with backs like Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell - all who had at least one 1,000 yard season for the Broncos.
That's why when Shanahan traded up in the fourth round to get Helu he clearly saw something.
My guess is Shanahan looked past the injuries and inconsistent moments of Helu's career at Nebraska, but instead saw a guy that ran through a Bob Stoops defense three times in 2008, 2009 and 2010. You don't see backs bust 66 yard touchdown runs on Oklahoma's defense like Helu did in the Big 12 championship game.
It's going to be fun to watch this story play out over the final three weeks of the season. With Demarco Murray's season-ending injury on Sunday night, Helu has a chance to be the NFL's leading rookie rusher.
Vince Marrow a name to watch
One name to watch closely as a potential candidate to join Bo Pelini's staff in a full-time role is graduate assistant Vince Marrow.
Marrow is not your typical graduate assistant, as he came to Lincoln with professional coaching experience in both the UFL and NFL Europe, he served as Toledo's tight end coach in 2008 and he was a high school head coach in 2009. Before that Marrow had an eight-year career in the NFL as a tight end for the Buffalo Bills (1992-95), Carolina Panthers (1995), New York Jets (1996), Chicago Bears (1997-98) and San Francisco 49ers (1998-99).
With Carl Pelini now at Florida Atlantic, Marrow was on the road recruiting for NU as the ninth assistant coach this past week.
I know Marrow has only coached tight ends at Nebraska, but he could easily jump over to the defensive line with Papuchis in a full time capacity.
My take is Marrow didn't leave his coaching job in the UFL and move his entire family to Lincoln from Ohio to be a graduate assistant. There was a much bigger plan in place and that's why I would watch his name closely over the next few weeks.
Marrow brings strong Ohio recruiting ties, as he is deeply rooted and connected to several coaches around the state.
IWCC will have eight D-I signees
After an impressive year of Division I signings in 2010, it appears Iowa Western will have another busy signing day next week.
The Reivers currently have eight players with Division I offers and two with FCS offers, along with another six that will sign either Division II or NAIA.
What Scott Strohmeier and his staff have done in three years at Iowa Western is extremely impressive. This year they finished 9-2, capped off with a 62-0 drubbing of 11-0 Rochester in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls.
Going into this season Iowa Western arguably had two of the top junior college players at their position in linebacker Sam Maresh and cornerback Antonio Marshall, but neither will sign D-I. Maresh won't be able to qualify to sign D-I, otherwise Stohmeier said he'd have 30 offers right now. Marshall is the nephew of current Husker cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, but was dismissed from the team this summer and transferred to Georgia Military.
For the stat geeks
***Nebraska has some work to do if they want to sell their allotment to the Capital One Bowl. NU has currently only sold 8,500 of their 12,500 ticket allotment, and by this time most people that are going have already made their arrangements. I hate to say it, but I think the cost for airfare has priced many Husker fans out from traveling to Orlando.
***Nebraska's schedule for 2012 features 10 teams that qualified for bowl games in 2011, including Sun Belt champion Arkansas State and Conference USA champion Southern Mississippi. NU's opener with Southern Mississippi is arguably the Huskers toughest since Les Miles and Mike Gundy brought a ranked Oklahoma State team to Lincoln in 2003.
***NU still needs to get one more game on their schedule for 2012 in week four. I'm told expect it to be an FCS opponent, especially with non-conference games against UCLA, Southern Miss and Arkansas State.
***A big challenge for Carl Pelini at Florida Atlantic will be upping the football budget in Boca Raton. In 2010, seven of FAU's nine assistant coaches made between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, where the low man at Nebraska this year was John Garrison at $140,000. Garrison's salary is still higher than what Florida Atlantic paid either one of their coordinators, and that's before bonuses and incentives are worked in.
***Speaking of coaching salaries, Charlie Weis will make $300,000 more than Michigan State'Mark Dantonio. Tell me how that works? What has Weis done to justify a salary like this and what has KU football done to justify paying a coach $2.5 million dollars. To put it in even more perspective, Weis will make more than Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, who was paid $2.1 million in 2011.
Around the state
***Former Omaha Skutt standout Christian Dudzik came up with a big interception in North Dakota State's 24-0 win over Leigh in the FCS quarterfinals. The Bison will now play Georgia Southern this week for a berth in the FCS national title game.
***Both Michael Minter of Lincoln North Star and Josh Banderas of Lincoln Southwest are expected to be in San Antonio for the Army Junior National Combine in January.
***Nebraska continues to keep a close eye on Omaha Skutt tight end Matt Miller. The 6-foot-5, 235 pound Miller still awaits his first Division I-A offer, but several teams are close.
Sean Callahan can be reached at [email protected] and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.