ANOTHER VERBAL: 6-foot-8 DT to the Cougs

HE PLAYED BUT one year of high school ball after coming to the States but in that short time, the newest member of the Cougar Family quickly earned a nickname on the gridiron -- "The Nigerian Nightmare". It's easy to see why, the junior college defensive tackle now checks in at a hulking 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds. He's also Palouse bound, having verbally committed to WSU just hours ago.

Mike Abana, an honorable mention JC Gridwire All-American and first team All-Conference selection this year, tripped to Washington State this past weekend and said he fell in love with the place. He gave his verbal commitment to coaches Kelly Skipper and Bill Doba earlier this evening.

"I waited until today to make my decision, I just verbally committed a minute ago," Abana told "I talked to coach Skipper and then I spoke to the head coach, he was the right there with him. Washington State saw that I can run well, they said they really like how I can move with my size. They said they were really happy to have someone like me join their team."

That might be because there aren't a whole lot of defensive tackles that are 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds. But despite that massive frame, that also doesn't mean he can't run.

He jumped onto the radar of Washington State, and a number of other schools such as Oregon, Oregon State, Texas A&M, Colorado and others, after they saw tape of his sophomore season at Santa Monica College.

"Well, he's 6-8, that's one reason they like him," said Santa Monica defensive coordinator Rory Barnett. "But he also picked a fumble out of the air against , caught it in stride and he actually ran away from their team, an 80-yard fumble return. So he showed some speed there. I didn't even know he was that fast."

"It was just like family up there," said Abana of Washington State. "The players, the coaches, I could just see that they were all together up there, there was a real sense of union up there between everybody.

"I felt like I can join this group, and also I'm the kind of player who plays a 3-technique and so I'm going to fit in real well with them, like I did at Santa Monica. It will be a good fit for me."

Barnett said Abana has only scratched the surface of what he's capable of out on the football field.

"He's a beast. The beauty thing about this kid is he's only played three years -- one in high school and two for us so he's still raw, a diamond in the rough," said Barnett. "He's a great kid, a success story."

In 10 games this season, Abana had 33 tackles with seven for loss (-31 yards), three sacks, four QB hits, two pass break ups, two forced fumbles and the fumble return for 80 yards and a score. Abana will receive his AA degree in June and has three to play two at Washington State.

"In an article back when I played in high school they called me the Nigerian Nightmare back in Virginia. But out here in California they just call me Prince so you can just call me that I guess...but I'll tell you this, you can put this out there: A lot of people when I first started playing the game, they told me I wasn't a Division I player. But now, I'm going to prove them wrong."

Mike Abana profile

A 3-technique refers to where the defensive tackle lines up, in this case between the offensive guard and tackle in the "3" gap, sometimes referred to as the "B" gap. The DT's anchor foot is his foot closest to the ball, his leverage foot is the foot closest to the 3 gap and it requires a d-tackle with good feet to play it well. Ideally, the 3-technique tackle will maintain control over and/or shoot the gap and keep his feet moving, oftentimes blowing up the play and also to funnel everything back to the inside where the 1-gap DT, defensive ends and linebackers are then also in prime position to make the stop.

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