Back in April there was talk about three linemen in Atlanta Georgia, Jeremy Ciulla at Marietta who would like to decide early, and two at Westlake. Now that 'camp season' is pretty much over, I decided it was time to go ahead and call the Westlake kids, who list Michigan but whose recruiting won't get 'hot' over the summer since they probably won't make it up to Ann Arbor except for an official visit. The first one to pop into my mind was the biggest -- offensive tackle Courtney Abbott (6-9, 340 lbs.) from Atlanta, Ga., Westlake.
Courtney, please tell me about your Michigan recruiting so far.
"Yes sir. Coach Loeffler from Michigan came down to our school, in late April, I believe, and talked to my coach and briefly to Michael Brown (the second top Westlake LM, a DL/OL) and me. Michael and I are good friends and we were together when Coach Loeffler said he and that we both have scholarship offers to Michigan. Coach Loeffler offered Michael too -- he offered both of us. Coach Loeffler is a great guy -- with those wire rims he doesn't look much older than me!"
Did Michigan talk to you on the phone as well?
"Yes, Coach Loeffler called and talked to me."
Do you have a top five list?
"Yes I do: Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, Clemson and Auburn. Michigan is recruiting me the hardest ... and Virginia."
Would you actually leave the South to possibly play at Michigan?
"Yes sir, I sure will. I don't have to stay home. My mom has always sent me a lot of different places ever since I was a boy, to play basketball. So I'm used to being away from home. As long as there is a phone to call my mom, I'm set."
Why are you interested in Michigan?
"I want to go where they like to run the ball behind big lineman!"
"I have never been to Michigan, but my mother has. She said it's cold (laughing)! No, actually she says it's real nice. I definitely plan on visiting there, for an official visit. I'm trying to get up there for a game in the fall. When Michigan calls September 1st hopefully we'll set it up -- my birthday is Sept. 2nd so that'd make a good present!"
Have you been to any camps?
"Just the 'First and 10 Camp', put on by the quarterback coach of the Atlanta Falcons. And in two weeks my whole team goes to Valdosta for a camp. Man it's going to be 150 degrees in the shade! We'll probably practice at 6:30 in the morning to escape the heat! That's it for camps though. I've been going to summer school too (he has a a 2.3 GPA, but has scored an 860 on the SAT)."
You said you play basketball?
"Well I play basketball for my school. I used to play stopped AAU ball too, but not any more -- now I spend my time in the weight room every day. I play center -- but I can dribble too, and I can shoot, just not the 'three'."
So that's how you got your nickname then?
"Baby Shaq! I'm 6-9, and I weigh about 340 lbs., so I kind've resemble him. But how I got the name is a long story. Back in fifth grade I was playing basketball ... I was big but I was pitiful. So I got the nickname 'Shaq-do-do'. It was in 9th grade that I became "Shaq." The guy that gave the name to me was a big star at the time at Westlake, in both basketball and football. I was about 6-6 already in 9th grade. This guy saw me go coast to coast and dunk it .... he said, 'That boy plays like Shaq!' And I've been 'Shaq' ever since."
You're 6-9, 340 lbs., and you can run a 5.2 second 40?
"Yes sir. Actually I've been timed at 5.23."
I read that you want to major in Sports Law in college?
"I actually want to major in Sports Management, Sports Management and Communications. I want to do your job some day -- as you can tell I like to talk to people."
Ga. OL Courtney 'Baby Shaq' Abbott
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