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March 15, 2017

Rex Burkhead

Welcome Husker Nation to the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show, where I'm bringing you the pulse of Husker Nation three times a week. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Fast Friday. And today we have a very special guest but before we get to that I gotta give you a little inside scoop on what it's like to have a show: So originally Will Compton was supposed to join me for an interview today. Thanks for leaving me hanging Will! But that's all right. So these are my notes for the show with Will Compton.

So then I'm like "All right, it's the Huskers' Pro Day," so I'll get ready to do that (holds up notepad). Here are my notes for the Huskers Pro Day. And then, Rex Burkhead signs with the Patriots, so I'm like "Sweet, I'll hit him up, maybe he'll be free, maybe he won't." Luckily, he was! So Rex is with me today. But here's my notes, so I've literally gotten ready for three different shows today. So there's a little bit of behind the scenes on the Carriker Chronicles.

But let's get to the main event: Rex Burkhead, needs no introduction, how ya doing my friend?

REX BURKHEAD: I'm doing great, thanks for having me man!

ADAM CARRIKER: First off, congratulations on signing with the Patriots, that's awesome. Tell me your thoughts on signing with the Patriots, your emotions -- what you're feeling right now.

RB: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, you know definitely excited for the opportunity to compete in New England. It's a great organization. Of course, they're always mentioned winning Super Bowls or always going deep in the playoffs so -- you know, they're definitely known for being a winning team. That's something that was very, I guess, something I wanted to be a part of. You know, (they're) just known for hard-working guys who love to play football and love the game and come together for a common goal to win the Super Bowl and that was something very intriguing to me to be a part of.

AC: Now word got around that you're up there visiting and the first thing I thought of when I heard was "Oh, he's a perfect fit in New England, that Bill Belichick system. He'll be a perfect fit. But I was excited at the end of last year you got the opportunity to show what you could do on the field. In fact against the Ravens you guys had a 27 to 10 win. In that game, you had 27 carries, 119 yards and two touchdowns. So talk about how that helped you show what you could do with the end of last season.

RB: Yeah, it was great man, you know, definitely had a lot of fun out there with the guys you know and kinda (inaudible) to win to end the season was -- it was fun. And to go out that way and -- can't lie -- going into free agency, I knew that game was huge and a good opportunity for me to showcase what I could do. And I guess it kinda helped me out and ya know got the Patriots interested and luckily it turned out to be a good fit for me.

AC: Now I don't have this written down to ask you about but it just popped into my head. Cincinnati, my old d-coordinator Jim Haslett is there. My old defensive line coach Jacob Burney is there. (speaking gruffly): DOES BURNEY STILL TALK LIKE THIS!? And is Haslett still walking around with a watermelon in his ankle? 'Cuz he played for ten years in the league and he's got a huge frickin' ankle!

RB: Yeah, yeah I love those guys. Yeah Haslett, he's funny! Yeah he struggles to walk around for sure.

AC: Yeah I always had to be careful when I shook his hand 'cuz he had shoulder surgery. His son is actually an assistant at Nebraska as well with the quarterbacks I believe. What will your role be with the Patriots? Have you discussed that much yet?

RB: Yeah, um they said nothing's really given to ya -- it's all earned, so it's whatever. If that's a first, second or third down back, you have to earn that, so whatever that role may be. You know, it's kind of for me to prove what I can do and whatever they see in me that's what my role's gonna be, so it's going in there, working my tail off, do what I can and ultimately it will come down to where they see me fitting.

AC: Now will you be playing special teams as well, 'cuz I saw where you have 27 tackles on special teams and you -- you don't play defense! That's a LOT of tackles so is that something that will be on the docket as well?

RB: Oh, I'm sure yeah! That's something they've been known for. They have one of the best special teams units in the league, and you know, they use their starters and any guys that are available on special teams so I've really grown to like doing that side of the game and if that's what they want me to do, then I'm going to do it.

AC: What are you looking forward to the most now that you're a Patriot? Getting to work with Tom Brady and the defending world champs? What are you looking forward to the most?

RB: Yeah, I mean they're known for being one of the best organizations not just in the NFL but in all sports. So really just learning and seeing how they operate. That's what kind of my goal is. To be the best possible football player I can be and to be surrounded by greats like Brady and Belichick and other guys there. It will be very interesting and a cool learning process.

AC: Now obviously, two former 'skers, two former Huskers -- we gotta talk a little bit of Nebraska football. And there's been a lot going in this offseason -- NOT been a boring offseason. What are your thoughts on some of the things that have transpired this offseason for the Huskers?

RB: Yeah, I'm excited for them. I think they definitely improved upon last year from the previous season so I think they'll have great things laying in store for them this year and ya know I always try to catch as many games during the season if we're not travelling or at meetings or what not. So always trying to see the latest on them and definitely hoping for the best for them.

AC: Now I'm curious your thoughts on this running back battle. You got Devine Ozigbo, you got Tre Bryant, you got Mikale Wilbon. Now you got Wyatt Mazour who's emerging as of late. What are your thoughts on this running back battle you got going on at Nebraska?

RB: Yeah, they got a bunch of great backs. It's going to be an interesting battle and you know, I think all of them can play so it's going to be up to the coaches to see who gets the most playing time or see what roles they can take on. So -- you know -- that's what Nebraska's known for is always having solid backs come through there. That's a big reason I committed to the University of Nebraska so yeah, to keep the running back tradition alive! I think they're in good hands and excited to watch 'em!

AC: Now, we've got a diversification in our backfield 'cuz Devine Ozigbo's a little bit more of a power back. You got Tre Bryant who's a little bit more of a speed guy. Now you yourself, do you take more pride if you run somebody over -- stomp a mud hole in their chest so to speak -- or do you take more pride if you run right by them and display that speed? What stands out to you as a running back yourself?

RB: Man, I think making a guy miss! You know, just 'cuz they don't expect that from me a lot of the times but growing up (I) always took good pride in that. Just my quickness and ability to make guys miss. But running a guy over's a great feeling. You can't beat that feeling, so just try to do the best of both worlds.

AC: Not that this happened to me EVER throughout the course of playing football, but getting ran over is by far the most embarrassing thing a defender can have happen to him. It's even worse than getting pancake blocked, so ... um, your thoughts on the quarterback battle? And I'm not necessarily going to ask you about the battle itself. But being an offensive guy -- being a running back -- would you prefer to play with a mobile type quarterback or a pocket quarterback? And as you know Nebraska's going to a more pro-style quarterback? But being a running back what's it like playing with those two types of quarterbacks?

RB: Man, it's tough! I really can't say one or the other honestly 'cuz if you have a runner then they're (the defense) gonna key on him so it opens up things for you. Then if you have a passer, it's going to open up things in the pass game that's going to open up the run game. So either/or is great to have and if you can have a combination of both or use both quarterbacks I mean, that's more power to you and that's going to help out the offense even more. You know it definitely gives an offensive coordinator that much creativity in what he wants to do and it's only more beneficial to him.

AC: Now when Jay Gruden came into DC, we were a 3-4 defense and he kept it a 3-4 defense. And he told me -- he told our defensive coaches -- as an offensive guy he hated going against a 3-4 defense. He thought is was tougher than a 4-3, hence we kept the 3-4. So as an offensive guy, what are your thoughts on the 4-3 defense versus a 3-4 defense like the Huskers are moving to this year?

RB: Yeah, man I couldn't honestly tell you if one's more difficult to go against or the other. Our offensive coordinator like Jay, he'll definitely have more insight (about it). But for me, I try to treat it all the same. Of course you'll have your differences in pass protection and what not. But yeah, some defenses really make the 3-4 look like it's a lot tougher to go against. You know other defenses -- it's the other way around! So ya know, I really couldn't tell ya one way or the other.

AC: I had an offensive lineman in St. Louis. He said -- well first of all he said defense is like having a dog: see ball, get ball. You know basically we were playing catch with the football -- it didn't take any brains (Rex agrees). But he always said -- (Adam chuckles and says "Oh, thanks!"). He always said that he preferred going against a 3-4 'cuz he wasn't quite as athletically gifted but he was very intelligent. He said it was more about the mental game where the 4-3 is straight one-on-one athletic ability. That's just where his thoughts -- I was curious about yours. Real quick, real quick -- I follow you on twitter, I follow Jack Hoffman -- or Team Jack on Twitter. What's an update on Jack? I'm always curious to hear how he's doing?

RB: Yeah he's doing great man! Just saw him at the Gala this past month where we had Eric Berry speaking. It was a great night, raised a ton of money for pediatric brain cancer -- the foundation is approaching 5 million dollars -- you know, funding for that research and so it's just been incredible to be a part of Jack doing great. He's getting tall man, he looks great and hopefully that continues. Actually hosting an event at my high school on April 1st. The foundation will have a 5K, a football camp and 3 on 3 basketball tourney. Jack and his family are going to come down for it. It's going to be a great event. Ameer Abdullah's going to help me coach the football camp and a couple other NFL guys so really looking forward to that.

AC: If people want to help out, is there a place they can send a donation? To help out Jack and with everything going on?

RB: Yeah, teamjackfoundation.org. That is the website for all donations for the foundation go to and you have the events that are upcoming with the foundation they're working on and all the latest news they can find there. Teamjackfoundation.org

AC: Okay, very cool, very cool! Now is there anything -- I'm just going to put the floor open to you -- is there anything you'd like to say to Husker Nation, Rex Burkhead fans? The floor is open to you if there's anything you'd like to say to them.

RB: Yeah man! I appreciate all the support! You know, I miss my days in Lincoln and nothing better than the Sea of Red on Saturdays and I just appreciate everyone who still follows my career and appreciate all the support! Thanks for the support of Team Jack as well.

AC: All right, Husker nation, that is former Husker Rex Burkhead. The newest New England Patriot that there is! Be sure to tune in two days from now of Fast Friday, I'm going to break down the quarterback battle in Nebraska football and next week I'm going to be posting that interview with Larry the Cable Guy so stay tuned for that. If you have not yet, sign up for the Carriker Chronicles email notification. Makes it easy -- you don't have to check Twitter, Facebook, the websites! It just comes right to ya. Tell your friends about it as well. So, until two days from now on Fast Friday, Go Big Red and always remember ...