|| | College: Nebraska|
A highly-regarded high school running back out of Arizona, Amukamara (ah-MOO-kuh-MAR-ah) might have made an impact on this draft at his former position considering his natural skills and the dearth of backfield talent in this class. But when coach Bo Pelini arrived in Lincoln, he convinced Amukamara to give defense a chance, and both have played major roles in the resurgence of the Blackshirts.
Amukamara's parents are from Nigeria, but he grew up in Glendale, Ariz. After a slow start at Nebraska, he started to get comfortable at cornerback as a sophomore, leaning on his natural instincts and learning how to use his size and speed to his advantage.
As a junior, he showed the complete package as a press-cover corner with 64 tackles, two for loss, five interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Amukamara briefly considered bolting for the NFL, but opted to return to Lincoln. He earned All-American honors in 2010, although he failed to pick off any passes as quarterbacks shied away from his direction.
Amukamara believes he is an impact cornerback, and treated the scouting combine as a business trip to silence his critics. For those who questioned his straight-line speed? "I think some people don't know what they're talking about," Amukamara said two days before he dropped a 4.38-second 40-yard dash.
Amukamara is a former point guard who sees himself as a leader on the defensive side of the ball. He has talked to former Nebraska teammate Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick last year by Detroit, and plans on bringing that confident attitude to the NFL. He's concerned only about making his own impact at the next level, and not trying to compare himself to others.
"I think every player who considers himself great should have their own identity," he said.
Read & React: Strong instincts with very quick reactions. Reads the quarterback's eyes and anticipates routes, closing quickly to jump underneath routes. Gets into the flat in a hurry to attack screen plays and outside runs. Inconsistent biting on double moves and pump fakes, will get overly aggressive during the course of a game and give up the deep ball.
Man Coverage: Perfect NFL press-cover corner with his combination of size, strength and speed. Is patient in man coverage, reading the receiver's move and reacting quickly. Quick feet and smooth hips to turn and run, maintains contact with most any receiver down the sideline. Closes well when playing off the line, attacks midsection and wraps to tackle. Capable of playing very physically, especially in the five-yard area. Has the lateral movement to shadow jerk routes. Maintains cushion in his backpedal.
Zone Coverage: Owns the prototypical man-press build but has the closing speed and physicality to excel in zone coverage. Excellent anticipation of underneath throws, cuts under receivers to make a play on the ball with exceptional hand-eye coordination. Comes off deep routes to support shorter patterns to his side. Secure tackler who rarely gives up yards after the catch. Has dropped interceptions not thrown in his breadbasket. Fair foot speed in his backpedal, but needs to stay over his feet instead of leaning backward.
Closing/Recovery: Excellent closing speed for his size. Changes from pedal to forward motion quickly, plants hard and has a burst to the ball. Inconsistent recovery speed if frozen by double move, can get back into the play (and make a play on the ball) but quicker receivers seem to maintain separation.
Run Support: Has the size and aggressive nature to excel in run support. Willing cut tackler, gets into the thigh of the running back. Good strength to rip off receiver blocks, could be more consistent using his hands to disengage. Sticks his nose into piles and can stand up running backs coming with a head of steam.
Tackling: Excellent strength for the position, effective wrapping up receivers after the catch or cutting down backs in run support. Breaks down in space to avoid missed tackles. Will attack the shoulder pads of running backs to bring them down or force them out of bounds. Very effective cut tackler whether attacking the thighs of running backs or violently taking out the legs of receivers in the open field. Even when he does not bring down the ballcarrier, he gets enough to slow him down giving help time to arrive. Helps teammates finish off tackles in space. Could be more consistent getting off receiver blocks.
Intangibles: Spiritual man, involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Has matured greatly since arriving on campus, applying himself on the practice field and the film room more diligently since 2009. Parents are from Nigeria.
Senior cornerback Prince Amukamara was the cornerstone of a Nebraska secondary that was again among the nation's best in 2010. The 6-1, 205-pound Amukamara has been widely recognized for his play, becoming Nebraska's 108th first-team All-American, while also being tabbed as one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. He was also honored as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as voted on by the conference's head coaches. Amukamara showed lock-down ability at his corner spot throughout the season, limiting opponents to just 18 pass completions in 52 attempts against him. He also ranked among the national leaders with 13 pass breakups, while registering 58 tackles, including 36 solo stops. While Amukamara did not record an interception, his ability to shut down a large portion of the field allowed Nebraska to rank fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense. The Glendale, Ariz., native has 27 career pass breakups to rank seventh in school history. This season, Amukamara has had at least two pass breakups in four games, including a season-high three against Missouri. He also had at least five tackles in five games in 2010.
Amukamara ranked second on the team with five interceptions while starting all 14 games in 2009. His play helped Nebraska lead the nation in pass efficiency defense, and Amukamara was a first-team All-Big 12 selection for his effort. In addition to his five picks, Amukamara had a team-high 11 pass breakups and recorded 64 tackles and a pair of sacks. Amukamara played a prominent role in the Nebraska secondary as a sophomore in 2008. He played in all 13 games with three starts and had 34 tackles and three pass breakups. He played for Nebraska as a true freshman, serving in a reserve role in the secondary, while also providing standout special teams play.
Amukamara was the most recognizable name coming into the season after earning his share of honors last fall and putting his name on many preseason All-America teams. A first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2009, Amukamara is regarded as the cornerstone of a deep and veteran Nebraska secondary. Amukamara showed why he earned the preseason hype, but ironically he is the only player among NU's top eight defensive backs who has not picked off a pass in 2010. Despite not picking off a pass, his lockdown ability has been a key part of Nebraska defenders recording 19 picks, including four for scores. The dominant coverage skills exhibited by Amukamara were recognized on the conference and national level. Amukamara was one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Amukamara is Nebraska's first-ever finalist for the Thorpe Award. Prince was also one of eight semifinalists for the Lott IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year and one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award. Amukamara also become the second straight Husker to earn Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors after being tabbed as the league's top defender by the head coaches. He joined Ndamukong Suh and Grant Wistrom as the only Huskers to win the award. In the past two weeks, Amukamara has been chosen as a unanimous All- American, being named by all the major selectors including the AFCA, Walter Camp, FWAA, AP and Sporting News.
Amukamara has made 58 tackles, including a career-high 10 tackles at Texas A&M, and eight stops against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. He has also posted a team-high 13 pass breakups, including a careerhigh tying three PBU against Missouri. He had two breakups each against Idaho, Kansas State and Colorado, and has eight games the past two seasons with multiple pass breakups. His first PBU against Idaho deflected into the air and was intercepted by P.J. Smith--the first of five NU picks in the game. The 6-1, 205-pound Amukamara has 27 career pass breakups, which places him seventh on the Husker career list.
Amukamara's impact cannot be measured only by interceptions, tackles and PBU. Through 13 games opponents had targeted Amukamara just 53 times, and completed only 18 passes against the lock-down corner.
Western Kentucky: Keyed a defensive effort that allowed just 120 passing yards on 22 attempts, finishing with three tackles and a pass breakup. Idaho: Turned in a solid performance, recording seven tackles and adding two pass breakups, as NU forced six turnovers and held the Vandals to 219 yards passing on 39 passing attemps one of his breakups led to P.J. Smith's second- quarter interception. Washington: Amukamara keyed a Husker defense that held Jake Locker to just four completions in 20 attempts, finishing with three tackles, including a pair of solo stops, and adding a pass breakup in a 56-21 victory. South Dakota State: Amukamara had one tackle, while NU held SDSU to just 236 total yards and 95 through the air in a 17-3 Husker victory. Kansas State: Amukamara shined in Nebraska's 48-13 win, totaling six tackles and breaking up a pair of passes as the Wildcats had just 135 yards passing on 27 attempts. Texas: Starred in the secondary as NU held Texas to its fewest passing yards since 1983 had four tackles and a pass breakup, as the Longhorns completed just one pass to a wide receiver. Oklahoma State: Recorded three solo tackles, as Nebraska picked up a 51-41 win over previously unbeaten Oklahoma State.
Missouri: Amukamara played at an All-American level, helping the Huskers knock off No. 7 Missouri totaled two tackles and a season-high three pass breakups, as the Huskers held Blaine Gabbert to 18-of-42 passing for a season-low 199 yards anchored a pass secondary that totaled six breakups en route to Nebraska's first win over a top-10 foe since 2001. Iowa State: Matched his season high with seven tackles, including a nine-yard sack, in NU's one-point win over the Cyclones. Kansas: Helped limit Kansas to just 15 passing yards and 87 total yards, as he collected two tackles and had a breakup. Texas A&M: Had a season-high 10 tackles, including eight solo stops. Colorado: Keyed a Blackshirt defense which held Colorado to just 10-of-27 passing, as the Thorpe Award finalist had two tackles and a pair of pass breakups in a 45-17 win.
Registered five interceptions to rank second on the team behind Matt O'Hanlon. Amukamara had a team-high 11 pass breakups, including four games with at least a pair of breakups. Amukamara finished 19th nationally in passes defended at 1.14 per gamee. He also contributed 64 tackles, including a pair of sacks, and had at least five tackles in five games. Amukamara recorded his first career interception and had six tackles in the opener against Florida Atlantic. He added seven tackles, a sack and two breakups in a 38-9 win over Arkansas State, then posted six tackles, including four solo stops and a tackle for loss, at Virginia Tech. He forced a fumble in Nebraska's shutout of Louisiana-Lafayette, then had a team-high nine tackles and two pass breakups in a key win at Missouri.
Amukamara had a big game at Baylor with four tackles, a career-high three breakups and his second interception of the season. Amukamara picked off his third pass of the season and returned it 22 yards to the Oklahoma 1, setting up the game's only touchdown in a 10-3 NU win. He also had two breakups in the game. Amukamara added his second career sack against Kansas, then recovered a fumble against Kansas State.
He nabbed his fourth pick of the season at Colorado, then had a big game against Texas. Amukamara recorded a first-quarter interception to set up a Nebraska field goal and had seven tackles, including six solo stops. He closed the year with three tackles in the Holiday Bowl shutout of Arizona.
Played in all 13 games in 2008, including starts against Western Michigan, New Mexico State and Virginia Tech. He started the opener with Murillo slowed by injury, then replaced an injured Anthony West against the Aggies. He made 34 tackles, including 21 solo stops, ranking as one of the leading tackles among non-starters. Amukamara added three pass breakups and caused a pair of fumbles on punt coverage at Kansas State. He also had two tackles for loss and had an 11-yard sack against Baylor.
Amukamara made a career-high eight tackles in the opener against Western Michigan, and added six tackles in the Huskers' 38-7 win over New Mexico State. He had four other games with at least three tackles, and in addition to his sack against Baylor he added a tackle for loss vs. Oklahoma.
Amukamara did not play in the first three games, but saw action in eight of the season's final nine games. In addition to providing depth at cornerback, Amukamara was a regular on Nebraska's kickoff coverage unit. He finished the year with four tackles, two against Kansas State and one each against Ball State and Missouri.
Combine: 4.50 40-yard dash; 18 reps at 225 pounds; 35 1/2-inch vertical; 10'9" broad jump; 4.01 short shuttle; 6.97-cone drill.
Amukamara was a dual-threat performer for Coach Zach Threadgill at Apollo High School. During his final two seasons, Amukamara scored nearly 50 touchdowns, while rushing for 3,389 yards and averaging 11.9 yards per carry. As a senior, Amukamara rushed for 2,106 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 191.5 yards per game, while catching 22 passes for 252 yards and six touchdowns.
In the same two seasons, the 6-1, 180-pounder also had 664 receiving yards and totaled about 125 tackles, including 95 tackles and two interceptions in 2006. Amukamara was also a dangerous kickoff and punt return threat, averaging 26 yards per punt return and 20.8 yards on kickoff returns. Amukamara's play helped lead Apollo High to a 7-4 record during the 2006 season. Amukamara's best game came in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs against Scottsdale Chaparral. In a 35-28 overtime loss, Amukamara rushed for 366 yards and four touchdowns, caught four passes and had a 45-yard punt return.
He was honored as the state high school player of the year by the Arizona Republic newspaper, which named him a first-team Class 4A all-state pick. He is ranked as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, which also ranks Amukamara as the No. 12 overall prospect in the state of Arizona and the 56th-ranked athlete in the country. Scout.com lists Amukamara as the nation's No. 47 running back prospect, while SuperPrep Magazine ranked him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the state of Arizona.
In addition to his football talents, Amukamara is also a starting guard for the Apollo basketball team, which captured its third straight Class 4A state title in 2007, when Amukamara averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.5 steals per game. Amukamara also starred in track at Apollo High, winning the Class 4A state titles in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in 2007. His times in the 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.91) were both the fastest of any high school track athlete in Arizona.
Pronounced ah-moo-kuh-mara. Amukamara was born on June 6, 1989, and is the son of Romanus and Christie Amukamara. He chose Nebraska over Fresno State and Arizona State.