Abeln Discusses Team USA Decision

Whenever players get a chance to do an event before their senior seasons, there are several things to consider.

The most prominent of those, of course, is injury. But a potential injury wasn't enough to keep Missouri commitment Alec Abeln from playing for his country, something he said was an honor to do.

"I'm fully dedicated to our high school season, but there are some things in life you just don't pass up," Abeln said. "An opportunity to represent your country and play with not only great other guys, but guys from across the world is an opportunity you don't pass up.

"You can get hurt walking down the stairs," Abeln said. "You can get hurt working out. You can get hurt in practice before your senior year. It was a chance to represent my high school, and represent my country, but also to represent Mizzou. And that's really cool."

Abeln said he was encouraged to play in the game by the Missouri coaches. And so he jumped at the opportunity to represent what he called "his dream school" for the USA U-19 team this week in Austin.

"Mizzou is an hour-and-a-half away from home," Abeln said. "Fifty-plus kids from my high school go there every year. So I'll be playing and still hanging out with my friends, and get to play in front of my friends and family. So hopefully I can take that dream school and help it reach the next level."

Abeln pointed out that Missouri was already headed in the right direction.

"It's a great time to be a Tiger," Abeln said. "Obviously DGB is huge. The SEC is huge. The way that both in-state and out-of-state recruiting has gone this year is really big. But they've been doing things right the whole time, and things are just starting to fall into place."

Abeln said the Tiger coaches were drawn to his mobility and football IQ, both of which project well to his likely role as a center at the next level.

"I can beat you off the ball, I can beat you to the spot, and I'm going to do my best to win that block," Abeln said.

The main thing he wants to work on his his ability to drive when run-blocking. And with the level of competition down in Austin, he said he expects to have a chance to improve.

"We're not going to see four- or five-star defensive tackles every week this season," Abeln said. "And there won't be many defensive ends better than the Samoan defensive ends, or the Canadian defensive ends. So it's a chance to play and have fun with some really good kids, but also a chance to really challenge myself and get better."

Horns Digest Top Stories