Hidden gem deep in state for Nebraska?

What do you have to do to get noticed? How about pick off nine passes. That is a good start. How about an 85 yard touchdown reception that set a school record? Oh yeah, not just one 85 yard scoring reception, but two. This player from deep inside the state of Nebraska's borders is a hidden gem.

If you haven't heard the name of Zane Abner then you wouldn't be the only one, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't. Quietly, he put together a huge junior season playing defensive back for Atkinson (Nebr.) West Holt.

"I was all-state as a defensive back by the Lincoln Journal Star," Abner said. "That was in Class C1, but we will be C2 next year. I played cornerback this year, but I think that my natural position is probably safety."

"On defense I had nine interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and 50 tackles. On offense I played wide receiver, I can't remember how many touchdowns I had, but we set a couple of records like for longest pass for a touchdown. That was a school record. That was for 85 yards. I had two from that distance. One against Burwell and once against Pierce."

One the field now, Abner is playing a little out of position, but that doesn't mean that learning how to play man-to-man won't help. He probably translates more to a safety in college with his height and speed. He is a tall 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. In football testing at his high school he ran a 4.76 electronically timed 40-yard dash.

The fact of the matter is football hasn't been a big part of Abner's repertoire up to this point. He has done the team football camps, but most of his time in the summer are spent playing another sport entirely.

"We go to South Dakota State University's football camp for team camp. That and Wesleyan comes up here and puts on a camp. Other than that I won't do a lot more for football. I will be playing a lot of basketball. I haven't thought about Big Red Camp at all."

If you had to ask Abner which sport he felt he was better in he would side with basketball, partly because it is a comfortable answer. This was really his first year playing football, but has been racking up the awards in basketball for a while now.

"I would probably say that I was a better basketball player than I am a football player. Last year I was all-county independent first team and all-state honorable mention as a sophomore. I was rated the ninth best player in the class as a junior this year, pre-season. I play point guard. I am averaging 18 points per game, 10 rebounds and about six assists."

When it comes to seeing himself and breaking down his abilities on the field, Abner has some ideas what made him successful on the field this season on defense and offense.

"I think being able to read the quarterback is my biggest strength. I can tell where he is going to go with the ball. Like when we go through opposing teams plays in practice I then remember all of the routes. It's easy for me."

"On offense I think being able to run and out-jump people on my routes are my strengths. I guess that I run pretty good routes overall."

When it comes to thinking about which sport he sees himself playing in college Abner admits that he saw himself playing basketball in college. However, there has been a shift recently to thinking about the other sport.

"As of right now, probably, but just lately I have been thinking more and more about football a little bit more. Pretty much all my life I have just been a basketball player until this year."

It's tough for any player within the state lines of Nebraska to say that they wouldn't think about going to Nebraska. The question that Abner has about if Nebraska will show interest or not. "If they showed some interest I would definitely think about playing there, for sure. I would consider going to camp in Lincoln this summer."

The football recruiting attention has already started for Abner. It has been trickling in, but at least on division one school has taken note of Abner. "I have got some letters, but no one has ever called me before. I got some mail from Iowa and some other smaller schools."

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