EAST LAKE — The destruction of Port Charlotte was less than two hours old, and Devin Abraham had already turned his attention forward. The East Lake defensive back quickly headed home to watch film of Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer in preparation for Friday’s Class 7A state semifinal.
Abraham, a senior, is such a meticulous student of game film that he often has his own theories on how to take on an opponent by the time he meets with coaches to go over the game plan.
“Even if we haven’t loaded film for the players, Devin will go home and find something of the opponent on YouTube,” Eagles coach Bob Hudson said. “You end up talking to him like he’s one of the coaches because he has such a high football IQ. But that wasn’t just handed to him. He’s got that through a lot of hard work.”
Abraham’s intellectual approach is reminiscent of his father, Donnie Abraham, a former Buccaneers and New York Jets standout and current Clearwater coach.
“I’ve always told Devin how important it is to develop the mental aspect of the game,” Donnie said. “Everyone is a great athlete, but that mental part is what can separate you from the rest.
“Devin watches film on his own, though. I never had to make him do it or hover over him about it. I only provide my input if he has a question on something or seeks my advice.”
Devin has always imagined a route that would bring closer to the path his father followed. He tagged to practices and games during his father’s nine-year NFL career.
Devin has always been aware of his father’s success but never overwhelmed by it. The Abraham family often has golf outings or goes to dinner with Ronde Barber.
“My dad still keeps in contact with some of the former Buccaneers,” Devin said. “I’ll get to chat with Derrick Brooks every now and then or hang out with Ronde with my dad. That was something I was used to growing up.”
Devin has never attempted to mimic his father’s style. Still, the comparisons were inevitable, especially when Devin started playing tackle football in sixth grade and coaches immediately inserted him at defensive back.
“I didn’t really set out to become a defensive back,” Devin said. “I think the coaches just put me there because that’s the position my dad played and figured it would be a good fit.”
Though he has followed the pedigree, Devin has tried to step out of his father’s shadow. When he was a freshman switched from No. 21, the number his father wore in the NFL, to No. 23.
“I’ve always tried to be my own person, and I wanted to set my own path,” Devin said. “I picked the number because it was the same day as my birthday.”
This season, Devin had the chance to join his father at Clearwater when Donnie took over as coach. Devin chose to stay at East Lake, where he has helped the Eagles remain undefeated (13-0), set the school record for victories and play in the state semifinals for the first time.
“My dad was perfectly fine with me staying at East Lake,” Devin said. “He knew we were building up to something special.”
In the past four years Devin has developed into a tireless player with an inquisitive mind. Those attributes matched with his skills makes him special.
This season, Devin has a team-high six interceptions. He is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands as he is defending passes, returning four of those picks for scores.
Devin’s value extends beyond the secondary. He also is a special teams demon with eight blocked punts or field goals, two of which have been returned for touchdowns.
“Devin is the leader for us,” Hudson said. “He gets into position and puts himself in the right spot to make big plays. That’s been huge for us this year.”