Eisenhower’s AJ Abrams impresses in football, basketball and track

After basketball season ended, Eisenhower senior AJ Abrams joined the track team and had a couple days’ practice before the indoor conference meet.

Abrams’ first event at conference was the long jump. He won the event, with his initial attempt. Oh, and that was his first competitive jump — ever.

“My heart was racing that first jump,” Abrams said. “But after that first jump everything settled down and I got the hang of it ever since.”

Indeed. After focusing on one sport growing up, Abrams is getting the most out of his senior year and emerged as an elite three-sport performer in football, basketball and track.

For most of his life, Abrams was all basketball, all the time.

“We knew him since seventh grade when we had him start coming in for youth games and all-star games,” Neil Miguez, who stepped down as Eisenhower boys basketball coach after this season, said. “He was tiny.”

Abrams actually played youth football. But his size and the jumbled sports calendar coming out of the pandemic put that part of his athletic career on hold.

With the IHSA trying to squeeze an entire school year of sports into a four-month window in early 2021, football and basketball overlapped. Abrams chose basketball.

“My dad really wanted me to play [football] my freshman year,” Abrams said. “I didn’t want to because I thought I was too little.”

That didn’t stop then-Eisenhower football coach Sheamus Murphy from attempting to change his mind.

“You’ve seen the athleticism on the basketball court,” Murphy said. “Every year I was trying.”

Meanwhile, Abrams was emerging as one of the south suburbs’ top basketball players. After excelling on the lower levels coming out of COVID, Abrams moved up to the varsity during the second semester of his sophomore season and led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding.

“[The next] summer we saw this kid had a chance to be one of the best players around here,” Miguez said.

As a junior, Abrams averaged more than 20 points per game and led the team in rebounding, steals and assists.

The summer after that, with Abrams heading into his senior year, Murphy finally talked him into coming out for football.

“We could tell [after] the first couple workouts this kid was going to be something,” Murphy said.

And Abrams was. Playing receiver, he had 45 catches for 1,222 yards — a 27.2-yard average — and 18 touchdowns, earning all-state honors.

The Cardinals went 7-4, reaching the second round of the Class 6A playoffs before falling 49-35 to Kankakee.

Abrams “probably had the best half I’ve ever seen, against Kankakee,” Murphy said — nine catches for 285 yards and four touchdowns.

After that, it was back to basketball for Abrams, who led the Cardinals to a historic 24-8 season despite missing nine games with an ankle injury suffered in the season opener. Eisenhower beat Hillcrest for the first time in 29 years and knocked off Richards for the first time in nine years.

Abrams passed 1,400 career points and averaged 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals as he repeated as South Suburban Red Player of the Year.

But his big senior year wasn’t over yet. Eisenhower track coach Tony Sosnowski, like Murphy, had been trying to recruit Abrams for years.

“They asked me to come out for a minute,” he said. “I felt like this track team could use my speed and athleticism.”

He was right. Abrams set the program record in the long jump at 23-1 and qualified for the Class 3A state meet in that event and as a member of the 400-meter relay team.

“He’s an exceptional athlete that also has the work ethic,” Sosnowski said. “And he’s one of the most coachable kids you’ll ever [see].”

Now Abrams is looking ahead to college — he plans to play football and basketball at Iowa Central Community College. But he’ll also look back fondly on his last season of high-school competition.

“It went by pretty quick,” Abrams said. “But I enjoyed every last bit of it.”

Source link

Leave a Comment