Practice Tour: E.J. Abrams-Ward

THOMASVILLE, N.C. --- As Allen Brown replaces his son, Benjie, as the head football coach at Thomasville, he inherits the good problem of deciding how to utilize the versatile skills of athlete E.J. Abrams-Ward.

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    "He's going to play quarterback for us," said Brown. "Now, he's got a lot history here of being a good linebacker for us and when he was a freshman we brought him up for the playoffs and he played fullback. So he can play anything. For our team purposes right now, I would see him as a quarterback. He could do some spot duty as a linebacker, but we're going to try to limit that."

    With Abrams-Ward under center for Thomasville, Brown will attempt to take advantage of the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder's dual-threat ability.

    "If you got that good of a player and you don't try to utilize it, then you're not being smart," said Brown. "So we're going to try to [use both his passing and running ability]. But it's not as easy as it might seem.

    "If we're going to take advantage of his arm, we're going to need protection [and] we're going to need to have receivers. That's a thing we're trying to get down. One of the very difficult things is to have a quarterback that can throw it accurately and have people that are able to catch it and protect him; that's a reason a lot of high school team's don't throw that well.

    "The running end of it, he's going to be good at that – we think. And we're going to try to exploit that if we can."

    The majority of Abrams-Ward's yards will come out of some sort of option play, while passing plays are sprinkled throughout the game plan.

    "We're going to do a lot of shotgun to give me more time in the pocket, more time to read the defensive end or safety or corners," said Abrams-Ward. "We're going to mix a lot in. We're going to run a lot. And then on certain downs, certain plays were going to utilize my legs and my arm. We're definitely going to pass more than last year, but we're still going to stick to Thomasville football."

    Thomasville has a long tradition of accumulating massive amounts of yards on the ground. Last year's starting tailback Quan Warley rushed for 8,119 yards during his three-year career.

    "My son has been coaching this team and he's more liberal then I am; I'm noted for being pretty conservative," said Brown. "We'll try to throw the ball some, but I'm not going to get too far away from running – everybody knows that.

    "We want to play good defense, we want to take field position, and we want to be real physical. That's what we've always done and I don't know any other way to play football, really. But we'll try to – as much as we can within the framework of that philosophy – extenuate the things he can do."

    A lot will be on Abrams-Ward's shoulders this fall. He's one of only two returning starters on offense – included in the departures is Warley, a two-time Associate Press State Player-of-the-Year. Thomasville begins the season on a 37-game winning streak and as the three-time defending NCHSAA 1A state champions.

    "We play as a team and we have always played as a team," said Abrams-Ward. "It's not about one individual player. Every position counts and we need to work together."

    In the days leading up to their season opener against Lexington (N.C.) on August 24th, Brown will be trying to develop weapons around Abrams-Ward.

    "We don't think any one person can do it all," said Brown. "We're going to try to develop as many components around him as we can."

    With so much on his shoulders this fall, recruiting is an afterthought for Abrams-Ward.

    "I'm going to put that out of the way for the time being," said Abrams-Ward. "While I'm out here on the field, I've got to focus on the team. Whenever the season is over with, I'll get back to recruiting."

    Abrams-Ward does, however, plan on making some unofficial visits during the season, but he isn't sure where or when. Before the season closes out, he hopes to squeeze in some official visits, also.

    "With my officials, I'll most likely go out-of-state," said Abrams-Ward. "I might hold one official for here in-state; I'm not sure which school that will be yet."

    Abrams-Ward isn't prepared to name favorites, but he admitted that he's strongly considering Boston College, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. He's still waiting to discover the status of possible scholarship offers Michigan and Michigan State.

    Over the summer, Abrams-Ward hectic schedule didn't allow much time for recruiting. He did, however, attend two camps – both at UNC.

    E.J. Abrams-Ward Profile

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