Draft Spotlight: Prince Amukamara

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Shockingly, physicality is the calling card of Nebraska's next stud defensive prospect.**

Maybe he learned it playing with determined, defensive-minded teammates for four college seasons. Or maybe it's something understood since his days as a high school running back.

Whatever the case may be, Nebraska senior cornerback Prince Amukamara brings it.

When you witness relentless play all around you, it's bound to rub off. That's why Amukamara, a 6-foot, 206-pound cornerback, approaches the game like a 300-pound lineman.

Unlike many defensive backs, Amukamara prides himself on making tackles as much as intercepting passes.

"Some players don't like to stick their nose in and get dirty," he explained at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. "I'm one of those corners who do."

That do-it-all mindset helped Amukamara become the Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year and the 108th All-American in Nebraska's school history last season.

Not bad for a converted high school running back.

Amukamara arrived in Lincoln as the reigning high school player of the year in the state of Arizona. He attended school to continue carrying the football, but after meeting with the Cornhuskers coaching staff, Amukamara switched to cornerback and soon became a staple of Nebraska's Blackshirt defense.

It wasn't long before he became a lockdown defender against some of the best receivers in the nation.

In 2010, Amukamara was a first-team All-American, limiting opponents to a staggering 18 pass completions on 52 pass attempts against him. Amukamara finished the season with 59 tackles (36 solo stops) and 13 pass breakups.

Though he was held without an interception last season, Amukamara totaled five as a junior. Teams smartened up in 2010, electing to throw away from Nebraska's No. 21.

But his presence alone helped Nebraska finish the year as the nation's fifth-best in pass defense efficiency. Amukamara broke up three passes in a 14-point upset win against top quarterback prospect Blaine Gabbert's No. 6 ranked Missouri squad.

More so than his performance on the field, Amukamara brings strong character as well. He was a regular volunteer in the Lincoln community and was named to the 2010 Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.

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In Indianapolis, Amukamara reiterated how his personality would benefit whichever team selects him.

"I think character is a huge part," he said. "I think I have very good character."

Amukamara also has a very good sense of humor. He approached the podium of his combine press conference with a serious demeanor, but ultimately couldn't help making reporters chuckle.

Told to keep it like a business trip by a former teammate, Amukamara did so for the most part, but occasionally made dry-witted comments.

Asked point-blank is he's a better cornerback than LSU's Patrick Peterson?

Amukamara replied, "That's a good question. I guess we'll find out."

Later, he was asked if he paid much attention to mock drafts.

Once again, Amukamara supplied a sound bite gem.

"I'm not someone who Google's themselves," he said. "If I see it on ESPN, I pay attention to it but I know those are just like preseason polls. Nothing is set in stone yet."

Amukamara's skill set isn't defined either. He's diligently trying to shore up his talents before the draft.

"The thing I've been working on in the offseason is my technique," he explained. "I think I'm too high in my backpedal."

But Amukamara wants to carve out his own identity in the league. He's not trying to become the next version of a great player, rather the best version of himself.

"I have respect for all the DBs at the next level but there's not a particular guy that I model my craft after," Amukamara said. "I think every player who considers himself great should have their own identity."

If you're a defensive player coming out of Nebraska, relentlessness should be the crux of your talent. Amukamara has that attitude and major athletic tools (4.38, 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical jump).

Such ability gives him advantage on the perimeter. It allows him to comfortably play man-to-man at the line of scrimmage or any other scheme a coordinator might choose to utilize.

"Every corner should have that confidence because they are on an island," he explained.

But can Amukamara carve out the same type of early NFL success as some of his former Nebraska teammates?

"That is my plan," he said. "I'm definitely not trying to redshirt in the NFL."

There's a good chance Amukamara will Blackshirt next season. 

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