Helu Jr. Follows In Footsteps Of Jackson, Green

Cheesehead TV had the opportunity to speak to Nebraska running back Roy Helu Jr. at the NFL Combine.

Over the past couple seasons, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has shown an interest in running backs produced by the University of Nebraska.

In 2007 he drafted Brandon Jackson who went on to play a role as the Packers' starting running back most of the 2010 season and even more importantly as their third-down back.

And in 2009 Ahman Green was signed as a free agent for his second go-around in Green Bay when he became the franchise's all-time leading rusher.

This upcoming April, Roy Helu Jr. will become the next in line of Nebraska running backs to take his game to the NFL.

Helu has never taken the time to consider how he compares to his predecessors that have played for the Packers, though he does have a high regard for Jackson.

"We watched a lot of Brandon Jackson when I first came in (to Nebraska)," said Helu at the NFL Combine in February. "He's quick, and that's something I really admire, him getting in and out of the hole fast."

The two just missed each other in Lincoln. Jackson's final season at Nebraska was in 2006 while Helu entered as a freshman in 2007.

After a prep career coming out of San Ramon Valley in California, Helu learned a lot at Nebraska. It was his first time he ever worked with position coach, which he said was a change from his high school days.

And once former Packers assistant coach Bo Pelini took over as the Huskers head coach in 2008, the change was even more drastic.

"When Pelini came, he taught us how to compete," said Helu. "And I learned before what that really meant, but I really learned when he taught us to compete off the field."

During his junior season in 2009, Helu became the featured running back in Lincoln carrying the ball 220 times for 1,147 yards (5.2 average) and 10 touchdowns.

Though he shared the load with Marlon Lucky his sophomore year in 2008 and Rex Burkhead his senior season in 2010, Helu thinks his background prepared him for both roles, either as a featured back or a change-of-pace back at the next level.

"I showed that I could carry and take that load my junior year and share it this past year with Burkhead," said Helu, "and also Lucky and myself."

The shining moment of Helu's career was his 28 carry, 307-yard effort against no. 18-rated Missouri this past season, a game in which he scored three touchdowns.

He now enters the NFL Draft as a probably mid-round draft choice, which would probably suit the Packers' needs if they happened to deem Helu as one of the best players available at that point in the draft.

With veteran Ryan Grant and playoff hero James Starks both under contract for 2010, there's not an obvious need for the Packers at running back. Although there is the possibility either Jackson or John Kuhn or both could leave via free agency.

And if, by chance, Green Bay were to select Helu, the small-town atmosphere would probably suit him just fine. That's precisely the reason he chose to attend Nebraska.

"Coming from California, I thought it was pretty isolated compared to Oregon where I visited and Cal as well, where I'm from," said Helu. "At the moment, I looked at it as being away, focused on football."

Compared to the big-city lifestyle in most NFL cities, Green Bay would be a perfect fit for Helu.

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Omaha Scott's picture

March 22, 2011 at 09:04 pm

Watched him play for the past 4 seasons - would be a solid draft pick for the Packers

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