The red-shirt junior linebacker arrived at Rutgers with plenty of hype, but not with a lot of understanding how preparatory work was needed to play major college football.
Now, with more dedication in the film room, and more time spent in the playbook, it may finally be time for him to make an impact on the field. Abreu continues to run with the first-team defense at weakside linebacker, and he credits his improved study habits as to why.
"I meet more and more with the guys during my personal time,'' Abreu said. "It's meeting with players, the older guys, like (linebacker) Jimmy Dumont. He lives right under me. We go downstairs and talk and go over things.
"You hear it from coach and then you see it from the players, and he's a big-time motivator and uplifts your spirits. He's a real good guy, and that kind of helps.''
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has lauded Abreu's consistency this spring, while adding the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder needs to continue on his current learning curve throughout the offseason and in training camp.
But for the first time, Abreu has a grasp on the process needed to be successful on the field.
"I didn't understand it quite as well (before), but now I'm understanding it,'' he said. "I'm more patient, and understanding it helps. If you understand it in the meeting rooms, you have a chance out there.''
Abreu said his "attention to detail, better note taking'' are some of the tangible chances he made. Also, his recognition for why things may not go well during a cluster of plays is improved, and he pointed to Saturday's scrimmage for confirmation.
"I could have done better (in the scrimmage),'' he said. "At one point I was out of whack, out of focus, but the good thing is I noticed it, and I flipped it right away. I noticed it right away and snapped right out of it. In the past, it would have taken a while longer.''
One pleasant surprise during spring practice is the play of cornerback Marcus Cooper, who moved from receiver after a few sessions.
"There's no doubt about it, he's got a chance,'' Schiano said. "Now, he's got to do it, but I like what I see. The early returns are favorable."
Receiver Mohamed Sanu was held out of practice after getting dinged in the scrimmage. Schiano categorized Sanu as "a little cloudy.'' …Among the faces at practice was Roxbury High four-star offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro, who was accompanied by many of his teammates at practice.