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Published Friday, November 24, 2000

Senior backs leave mark at NU


Last modified at 5:50 a.m. on Friday, November 24, 2000
  

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  By Terry Douglass
The Independent

Nebraska football fans may never remember Dan Alexander and Correll Buckhalter as two of the best I-backs in Cornhusker football history, but their teammates and statistics argue otherwise.

Entering today's regular-season finale against Colorado, both Nebraska senior I-backs have topped the 2,000-yard rushing mark in their careers and both rank among the school's top 12 on the all-time rushing charts. Buckhalter has 2,454 career rushing yards to rank ninth all-time at NU, while Alexander has 2,358 yards to stand 12th.

Nebraska coach Frank Solich, who also served as the running backs coach before taking over the head coaching position after the 1997 season, said he thinks Alexander and Buckhalter have contributed plenty to the program during their careers.

"They are really greatly appreciated for a number of reasons," Solich said. "One because whenever they have been called upon, they have been there. It's never been the case where they have taken themselves out of the game unless it's been a serious injury that generally required surgery.

"Other than that, they have played through everything that you'd hope a player would play through, but maybe not expect a player to play through."

Solich also said Alexander and Buckhalter have been extremely unselfish. The two are listed as co-No. 1s on the Nebraska depth chart and have split time much of this season without a hint of complaint. Alexander has rushed 166 times for 1,056 yards, while Buckhalter has carried 100 times for 682 yards.

"When you run across guys who have talent, guys who are unselfish and guys who keep themselves on the football field, you appreciate that because that doesn't come along every year," Solich said.

Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said he and his teammates have appreciated the way both Alexander and Buckhalter have played through numerous injuries in their careers.

"They're very tough running backs," Crouch said. "If you look at it, they've had long careers and have played a lot of football.

"They've been through a lot and I think their toughness has shown and their strength."

Critics have piled on Alexander and Buckhalter for the past three seasons, saying that Nebraska hasn't had a true break-away threat at I-back since Ahman Green left for the NFL draft after the 1997 season. However, both players have responded by quietly going out and just doing their jobs. This season, the Huskers are ranked first in the country in rushing offense, averaging 354.6 yards per game.

"They have a lot of skill and they've both proven that by the way that they run, the amount of yards that they've gained and the amount of games that they've helped us win," Crouch said. "There's so much that those guys have that I don't think they get credit for."

Alexander said that he has no regrets about his years spent at Nebraska.

"I've been happy with my career here and I've been happy with this season," said Alexander, a 6-foot, 245-pounder from Wentzville, Mo.. "Other than a couple of disappointments, I've been happy with how things have gone.

"I'm not going into this last game dreading it. I'm going in thinking that I've had a good career, things have gone generally well and let's end it off on a high note."

Buckhalter, a 6-foot, 225-pounder from Collins, Miss., has been the classic "sixth man" in the Nebraska backfield. He's managed to crack Nebraska's top 10 in rushing despite starting just eight games in his career -- seven during the 1998 season.

"Whatever coach calls on me to do, I'm going to do that," Buckhalter said earlier this season. "I accept my role and as a senior, I'm going to try and lead by example."



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