TAMPA, MAR 21, 2018 – Growing up in the house of a Pro Bowl NFL Defensive Back is definitely an advantage to one who aspires to show his wares in the pros someday, and so it would be easy to say that now graduated USF Safety Devin Abraham has a leg-up on his competition. However, you’d be missing an important trait for this young professional: he is his ‘own man,’ thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’m sure Devin is proud to be the son of Donnie Abraham, a nine-year pro who played defensive back for the Bucs and Jets from 1996-2004. His father also coached him at Tarpon Springs’ East Lake High, which made his decision to stay close to home for his college career quite easy, along with the possibilities of what being a South Florida Bull entailed. “Coach T(aggart) preached (of) a dream team to put the school (USF) back on the map, and I wanted to stay close to home and be close to my family so they could see me play. It was the best fit for me… an underdog school, and I thought I was an underdog-type of player.”
Abraham had quite a successful career at USF, as in his senior year of 2017 he led the Bulls with five interceptions (which ranked him second in the American Conference). With their 18 INTs total, the Bulls ranked third in the nation for aerial takeaways. Abraham made a successful transition from cornerback his freshman year in 2014 to safety for his remaining three years at USF (2015-17), and the move really worked to his and the team’s benefit. After not recording any interceptions as a freshman corner, Abraham broke out with three, then one, and the aforementioned five as a senior safety. He finished his college career with 168 tackles (125 solo), two sacks, nine picks and a fumble recovery, and was the undisputed ‘defensive quarterback’ for the Bulls’ solid defense.
I asked Devin if he could remember a highlight of one of his most memorable games, and he immediately stated the Temple game as a sophomore in 2015 where the Owls were nationally ranked and came into Ray Jay looking for an easy win.
“We went out there and played USF football and came out with a great victory.”
(The Bulls beat 21st ranked Temple 44-23). “Then right after, we played Cincinnati and came right out there and scored on the first play of the game. We went on to win the game 65-27. We just go out and have fun doing everything… everything is good out there.”
Abraham knows he has to work at his craft in the pros in order to be successful. “I struggled at times with open field tackling, so I need to improve on that. I tried to make everything my strong suit, especially this past year with Coach Blue (Adams, USF Defensive Backs Coach); he helped me out a lot.”
“In the pros I see myself as a package guy. I’ll be able to play special teams… in the slot… in the dime… ultimately I’d like to play the safety position, but I’ll be wherever I can help the team out…. Special teams… Safety… Corner(back)… whatever they need me to do. I’m definitely the guy to help the team win ballgames. “
Abraham doesn’t have a preference of where he winds up in the pro game, as he is just ready to put on the pads and do what’s needed for him to ‘help the team win ballgames’ as he humbly stated earlier. “To be able to be picked… or be picked up undrafted to any team would be a huge blessing to me. This has been a dream since I remember going to see my dad play in the pros… just to have a chance and go out there and play in the National Football League would be a great opportunity for me… (I’ll take) any team.”
Abraham also graduated early at USF, garnering his Communications degree in 3.5years while working towards a second degree in Health Science during his last semester of eligibility. He plans to continue working on this second major during the NFL off-season.
Finally, when asked what qualities make him a more desirable teammate from any other candidates to assume his role as a future NFL player, Abraham stated, “I’m a standout guy… I love the comradery of football… I love to compete… and I just love the game of football. I love everything about it. I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it (play in the pros). This is an exciting time for everybody, and I’ll be tuned in (to the draft) watching all my friends get picked up, and keep on doing what I’m doing.”
Some NFL scouting sites project Abraham between a 5th -7th Round pick, while others have him being an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with whichever team makes him an offer or where the ‘fit’ will be best for him. Other intangibles may push him up the draft board, including his maturity and being aware of the inner-workings of life in the NFL due to his father’s previous tenure. “There’s a LOT of guys out there who can play ball. Wherever I get picked up… the opportunity to be out there on a team again, playing the game that I love, it’ll be a huge blessing for me regardless.”
Abraham’s USF Pro Day is March 26th, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be at his best in preparation for the ‘Who’s Who’ amongst professional scouting, snooping, poking and prodding NFL representatives on hand for the event. The pressure won’t be abated until sometime during the weekend of April 26th – 28th, when true to form he’ll be cheering on his teammates as the ‘Job Interview’ ends… and the start of his professional career begins, broadcast live on ESPN and the NFL Network.
The USF family and Tampa Bay area will be rooting for Abraham to make it big, but no matter what, he will no longer be ‘Donnie’s Kid’ anymore… he’ll be the standout rookie defensive back Devin Abraham of the (team to be determined). Bravo Devin!!
Jay “Captain Jack” Levy, BCP Contributor