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Roy Helu Jr., a San Ramon Valley High graduate, set a Nebraska single-game rushing record with 307 yards against Missouri.

To understand how Roy Helu Jr. views the world, consider the way he described his role in Nebraska's 31-17 win over then-undefeated Missouri this season.

"The first play of the game was us running for a long touchdown," Helu said. "A couple plays later we run for another long touchdown and I'm spent physically."

It was Helu, the senior I-back from San Ramon Valley High, who scored those touchdowns, dashing 66 and 73 yards in the first quarter despite fighting a bad cold. He ran 53 yards for another TD later but prefers using the pronouns "us" and "we" while discussing his school-record 307-yard rushing performance.

He talks about the blocking he got from the offensive line, the tight end, even the wide receivers. "The holes were gigantic sometimes "... it was pretty simple for me," he said.

That's Helu in a nutshell, according to Nebraska running backs coach Tim Beck. "He's a very unselfish guy. It's not about him."

Still, with 3,370 career rushing yards, Helu needs just 65 more to move to No. 3 in the history of this storied program. He'll get the chance Dec. 30 at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, where the Cornhuskers (10-3) face Washington (6-6) in a rematch of Nebraska's 56-21 rout of the Huskies in Seattle is September.

"At first when we heard about the selection of the teams, it was surprising for obvious reasons," Helu said. "We can't really control who we play. We want to win 11 games and go out like that."

Helu certainly is going out a different man than when he arrived in the fall of 2007. He was recruited to Nebraska by one-time Raiders coach Bill Callahan, but after visiting Lincoln thought he'd pick either Cal or Oregon.

Then he woke up one morning and, without telling his parents, phoned Nebraska and committed. "There was no good reason," he said.

His freshman year was a nightmare. The Cornhuskers went 5-7 -- their worst season since 1961 -- and Callahan was fired. Helu got into an altercation with his roommate and best friend on the team, who wanted nothing more to do with him.

"I didn't find any joy, happiness, purpose," he said. "I had feelings of depression, loneliness."

At home, Helu said he attended church just to pacify his mother, but he sought out the team chaplain at Nebraska to find some answers.

"I asked him what does it really mean to be a Christian," Helu said. "I thought Christians were squares. I wanted to see the other side of it."

Helu said he became transformed. His outlook changed. He is happier now, donates his time in the community and believes he is a better teammate.

And he is on track to graduate this month -- after just 31/2 years -- with a degree in sociology.

Roy Helu Sr. says his son used to be goofy, always joking around.

"He was never serious about anything," his father said. "I tell my wife, 'Do you remember when he went to middle school and you'd go see his teacher twice a week?' We're so shocked. We see how much he's grown up."

For the past three years, Roy Helu Sr. said their son has lived by himself in a two-bedroom apartment just so he can accommodate his parents or other family visiting from the West Coast.

"Talk to any people in Nebraska -- they're so proud of him off the field," Roy Helu Sr. said. "After games, we're hungry and waiting to go to the restaurant while he's signing autographs. He doesn't leave until the last one is done."

Helu still has a sense of humor. He jokes about how bad the sushi is in Nebraska and how the slow pace of Lincoln compares more to Oakley than Oakland among cities in the Bay Area.

But he also believes the changes he's experienced might not have happened elsewhere. "It all makes sense now," he said. "I've learned to become a real man out here and learned to follow Jesus."

Beck said Helu's ability to play faster led to seven runs of 50 yards or longer and makes the 6-foot, 220-pounder attractive to NFL teams.

Helu's 1,211 rushing yards this season could be far more, except that he was given the ball just 177 times. Oregon's LaMichael James has 104 more carries than that.

"Our running backs coach is awesome. He keeps us straight and not worrying about how many touches we get," Helu said. "It's about the team."

Nebraska's best
Where Danville product Roy Helu Jr. fits among Nebraska's career rushing leaders:
1. Mike Rozier (1981-83), 4,780 yards
2. Ahman Green (1995-97), 3,880
3. Eric Crouch (1998-01), 3,434
4. Roy Helu Jr. (2007-10), 3,370
5. Calvin Jones (1991-93), 3,153