The 90 Illini #81: Austin Abner June 12, 2012
6′-0″, 195 lbs.
rs-Freshman (walkon, 4 years to play 4)
Highlands HS / Fort Thomas, Kentucky
ALE Ranking last year: NR
What I Know About Him:
This is so much like me. Here I say that I’ll put up a new post every day until the season opener, and now it’s 11:43 pm and I have 17 minutes to get this posted so I can keep my word.
Abner had offers from schools like Bowling Green coming out of high school, but he wanted to give Big Ten football a shot, so he accepted a preferred walkon spot at Illinois. Which is great – I’d take 500 kids like that. It doesn’t cost us a scholarship, and we get depth at a position where we need it.
I didn’t get to see very much of Abner in practice last summer or this spring. Or, at least, he never stuck out to me. As with most walkons, it’s a long wait. First you have to climb your way off the scout team and into a few reps with the first and second string, and then, each year, you have to fight off the freshmen for that spot.
What I Expect From Him:
We’re fairly set at safety this year, with Hull and Sanni starting while PNY backs them up. But with Sanni and PNY graduating after next season, there will be opportunity for safeties like Earnest Thomas, Ben Mathis, Nick North, and Abner to find some minutes on the field. In fact, one of them will be starting next to Hull in 2013.
So I’m guessing that Abner will be scout-teaming it again this fall, but will start to show up on the radar in 2013. His final two years, he’ll have a chance at real playing time. My guess is that he’ll work his way into the rotation as a special teams guy, and if he can impress the coaches enough with some minutes there, he can start to think about getting some minutes at safety.