July 29, 2010

Abernathy has Rebs in top tier

A significant degree of uncertainty currently surrounds Ralph David Abernathy.

A timetable for his decision or the name of the school he'll announce for is unknown. But the Atlanta (Westminster) product believes the decision could hit him at any time.

"I don't know," Abernathy said. "Whenever it feels right. Could be tomorrow, it could be signing day."

Abernathy does know, however, the schools that he's seriously considering. The grandson of the famed Civil Rights leader, Ralph David Abernathy, has offers from Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and Air Force. Other schools - notably Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Duke, and Vanderbilt - are in contact with Abernathy.

Cincinnati and Ole Miss have emerged as an early, preferred pair. Abernathy is comfortable in the city setting that Cincinnati provides, but Houston Nutt's personality is refreshing to the 5-foot-7, 160-pound back.

"Coach Nutt is a great head coach and an even better human being," said Abernathy. "He's just a real person. He'll be honest with you and straight up. I don't want somebody who tells me what they think I want to hear.

"Coach Nutt will lay it out on the line and be honest, regardless of what's going on and I know that he will always, always have my back."

Abernathy has visited Oxford, Miss., twice in the past few months. He first made the journey from Atlanta for the opening of Ole Miss' spring practice and returned several weeks later to "get a chance to pick (the Ole Miss staff's) brain and see what they were all about down there."

Rebel defensive line coach Terry Price is the Atlanta-area recruiter, but running backs coach Derrick Nix is involved in Abernathy's recruitment, which has seemingly worked for Ole Miss thus far.

Abernathy camped at Auburn, Tennessee, Cincinnati, and Ole Miss over the summer. He likened the Ole Miss and Cincinnati trips as unofficial visits and noted that his stays at Auburn and Tennessee resembled a tryout more than anything else.

"Ole Miss was probably the most fun camp for me," Abernathy added. "It was more of just a recruiting visit, I didn't have to perform all that much.

"Cincinnati was more of a recruiting visit too, I really liked it, a lot. I didn't know what to expect, but it's a big city, there's a lot to do, and everything's close. I like it a lot. (Cincinnati) just got a new coaching staff and I know that new staff will put in some good things to get them to compete for a championship."

After a quick stop in Auburn, Abernathy visited Tennessee and met new Vols head coach Derek Dooley. The experience Knoxville provided was encouraging in terms of treatment and a scholarship offer after Abernathy felt like Auburn representatives gave him "the cold shoulder."

"I didn't like Auburn that much," Abernathy admitted. "I didn't get the warm, home-like feel at Auburn that I got at Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Cincinnati."

"I went to see Tennessee, and it was completely different. I felt wanted and everything was good. I met the running back coach and Coach Dooley. (Tennessee) was more of what I was used to, city-wise, and within the whole environment, I felt more at home."

The smaller, shiftier back (who ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at Ole Miss) would prefer to stay on offense in college, but he is willing to make a move to defense - if that's what his college coach decides. He played cornerback as a sophomore and plans to return to the defensive side during his senior campaign.

Abernathy reports 2,300 all-purpose yards, 1,500 rushing yards, and 23 touchdowns as a junior.

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