Phat Abbott: Back in Play

At 6-foot-9, 330-pounds, Courtney Abbott is a larger than life offensive line prospect, who has lived the highest highs and the lowest lows through the arduous course of what amounts to a three-year term in pigskin purgatory.

In December of 2003, Abbott chose Florida State over scholarship offers from over 60 Division I colleges from coast to coast. He signed with the Seminoles out of Westlake High School in Atlanta, Ga. at the age of 16 and seemed destined for NFL stardom.

"I had offers from pretty much everyone in the country," Abbott recalled of those heady days in a recent interview with Scott Eklund of "It basically was down to five schools though. Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Kentucky and Virginia were who I was trying to decide between and I was really torn. One would sound good one day and another one would sound good the next day.

"My mom really is what finally got me to go to Florida State. She broke it down for me and cleared my mind. Besides, it's Florida State. I mean, who wouldn't want to go play there?"

While mom may have directed him down the right path, destiny would dish out a detour from which there was no defense.

"I got diagnosed with diabetes pretty soon after I got to there," he said. "I was there for a year and a half and then I had to leave for academic reasons."

Being a student/athlete is tough enough without having to deal with a debilitating disease on top of it. Then there was the other adjustments to living away from home for the first time.

"I was really sick from the diabetes and I had to go to the doctor a lot and I missed a lot of classes," Abbott said. "I was depressed because I didn't feel well and I was away from my family and my grandma and my mom and that was just a really bad time. So I left and then I came to East Mississippi (Junior College) in January."

With his grades back up and his diabetes under control, Abbott is back on the gridiron and earning attention from major Division I football programs.

"Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU and Iowa State have sent me a lot of letters and stuff," Abbott related to Eklund. "No one has offered yet, but I'm not too worried about it. I've been through it before and I'm sure they are going to be cautious since I had some troubles before."

Of course, it's easy to throw caution to the wind when you're talking about a blocker of Abbott's dimensions and potential. After all he is still only 19 years and he's scheduled to graduate in December, which puts him on campus in time for spring practice. That's a major plus when you have a player with two years to play two seasons.

Looking to make up for lost opportunity, Abbott says early playing time will be the driving force behind his decision. He would also like to stay in the south.

"Automatically a lot of it is going to come down to playing time," Abbott said. "Since I won't have a lot of time, I need to go to a place that I can get on the field pretty early.

"Next it's just about finding a place I feel comfortable with and a coaching staff I feel I can learn from the most. I'll go play anywhere that gives me a chance, but I would prefer to stay in the south if I have the chance."

Abbott lost over 40 pounds during the apex of his illness, but has regained the weight and added to his strength. He bench presses 400 pounds and runs a 5.35 time in the 40.

With talent like that and the determination to make it big, Abbott is a good bet to be back in the high life again.

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