Having nose for football leads to good outing for State's Abram

Johnathan Abram (38)

Staff Writer

When Arkansas possessed the football on Saturday, it wasn’t hard to find Mississippi State defensive back Johnathan Abram.

Just follow the ball.

In one of the more dominant defensive performances on senior day in recent memory, Abram had a game-high 12 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. It was no surprise to see the big impact from Abram, who leads the team with 89 tackles this season, but it came with the move to a position that might be his best fit yet.

Injuries to Brian Cole and Jaquarius Landrews has prompted the safety Abram to move to the STAR position. The flexibility that the position entails makes for an even more dangerous defender.

“It just shows my utility that I can play pretty much anywhere,” Abram said. “I get a chance to be around the ball more. Landrews went down and we needed someone to step in. I just do what I’m asked.”

Doing what’s best for the team is really Abram’s thing. He’s always carried a team-first mentality and it’s what has set him apart from the rest.

MSU head coach Joe Moorhead didn’t select Abram as one of the team captains this year, but he considers him as much of a leader on the team as anyone else. It goes beyond his aggressive play on the field.

“I don’t think you have to have a “C” on your chest to be a captain or leader," Moorhead said. "Johnathan is not a captain and not on our leadership counsel, but he’s one of the best leaders on our football team and wears his emotions on his sleeve in a good way. I don’ think there’s a guy on our football team that enjoys the process more than him. He loves practice more than games.”

Those are things that stand out to his teammates as well.

Sophomore safety C.J. Morgan has been able to see increased playing time in the last couple of games due to the injuries and he had a strong day on Saturday as well with four tackles and an interception.

Morgan counts much of his development to the teachings of a player he considers to be another sibling. Abram’s passion for the game brings the rest of the team’s production and effort up a notch.

“I look at John as a big brother, on and off the field," Morgan said. "He always makes sure that we’re focused on the little things like getting to class on time, going to study hall and making sure we’re hydrated. John is an awesome mentor. The score was 45-6 and he was on the field making sure that we’re not lackadaisical.”

As for Abram, he doesn’t care for the praise or the accolades. He wants to see his teammates succeed and, in turn, a win on the schedule.

There was a time when Abram was a Bulldog of a different color. The former East Marion star was passed over by MSU coaches out of high school but was good enough to still play in the Southeastern Conference with Georgia.

After a season, he transferred and went to Jones Junior College and became a hot commodity before State came calling. This time, it all came together for him to be at a place where he belonged from the beginning.

He’s done whatever he could to make sure his two years in Starkville was the most impactful it could have been.

“Coming out of junior college, I had choices to go pretty much anywhere,” Abram said. “When I was at Georgia, playing against Georgia Tech didn’t mean that much to me because I wasn’t from there. Playing with all of my friends on senior day for the home team, I’ll never forget this day.”