The coaches have a feel for what Abren is capable of or they likely wouldn't be pointing a finger at him. Anyone who witnessed the 2004 highlights film at the beginning of last season saw No. 63 continuously popping up in the film making plays, even an interception for a touchdown. So undoubtedly the ability is there!
As spring football has arrived the defensive brain trust has Abren playing end and tackle. He has again been slowed by injury because on one of the mandatory three days (Friday) in helmets and shorts, in diving to make a play, Abren tweak a shoulder and has been out since but should return by Friday. On the same day, Jerrell Williams dislocated his shoulder, a senseless NCAA rule. What it says is they don't trust the coaches.
"We played Ricky at defensive end the last game against Tennessee," coach Rich Brooks said. "We continue to work him at both spots looking for our best combination. With the continued improvement of Ventrell Jenkins and Myron Pryor inside and you've got Jason Leger and also Lamer Mills coming back, we need more immediate help at end right now than tackle. So we are looking at Abren at end as well."
Abren said that in practice he goes a series at tackle a he goes a series at right or left end. Abren is looked at as a very cerebral athlete on defensive football. "I've had some experience," Abren said. "I know every position on defense.' I try to be versatile to take up some of the slack. We're kind of thin at defensive end right now so since I know a lot of positions on the defensive line and I'm capable of doing both. Defensive end was my primary position my true freshman year."
What do you say to the fact the coaches are expecting you to step up this year? "I feel the exact same way. I had a decent freshman year and then last year I was injured. I not going to use that as an excuse, I had a bad year. They are expecting me to make plays, I expect more out of myself, my family expects more out of me and my teammates expect more out of me than what I gave last year so this year I'm just trying to get in the best shape I've ever been. I need to be able to go out there and plays as many plays that I need to be playing without getting tired so I can prove this is going to be a break out year for me."
Do you look at yourself as a team leader? "As for as knowledge, I know this defense but I'm not trying to be a vocal leader as for rah, rah everybody up. Coach Petrie says ‘what you do speaks so loudly everybody can hear you. I do take trash to the offensive linemen to make sure they are in the game. Our leader in the defensive line is Lamar Mills even though his not 100 percent and he's not doing contact drills but just having him out there motivates us all. We all get excited when we see No. 45 trotting out there. Myron Pryor has matured. He's hit the weights and ran a 4.87 forty. The confidence Ventrell (Jenkins) got last year, he's going to be a force."
He said the experience we have now as a group, we are young in age but we are no longer young pups anymore. I going into my fourth year in college and it time for me to step up, Abren said.