SPARTANBURG, S.C. - There are some players that just can't be tied down by one position or even one term.
E.J. Abrams-Ward is listed in the Rivals.com database as an athlete. Many players are termed athletes because they could play one of two positions or they are a player without a clear position. But somehow even the term athlete doesn't quite encompass everything that Abrams-Ward is capable of doing on the football field.
In the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas this week, Abrams-Ward has been running drills with the defensive backs, linebackers and has even been working on rushing the passer. His versatility on the defensive side of the ball has been impressive, especially considering he has no plans to play defense in college.
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"On the next level I've talked to a lot of guys about playing wideout," Abrams-Ward said. "Out here I'm playing outside linebacker. It's just where they need me to play so by all means I'm a team player and I'm gonna do whatever I need to get the job done so we can get the win on Saturday."
That "whatever it takes" mentality is a big reason why the 6-foot-5 senior is listed as the No. 11 athlete in the country and a member of the Rivals250. Abrams-Ward also can thank his confidence and competitive spirit for much of his successes on the playing field. The Thomasville, N.C. native is brimming with confidence but still manages to maintain his humility.
"I'm very competitive," he said. "If I'm not number one then the charts are wrong. That's how I've got the attitude about it so I'm going to go out here and prove it to people that I should be higher. But my hat goes out to all of these players. To me I feel as if they're all All-Americans or could be. I'm playing against top notch players in South Carolina and I put these guys against anybody in the country. For me to be out here, I come humbly with these guys and it's a real honor."
Despite the all-star game atmosphere and the multitude of distractions this week, Abrams-Ward is still maintaining a focused attitude about game week. After all, he still has a game to win.
"We're ahead of schedule," he said. "We're looking better than a lot of people thought we'd be. We're strong on defense, quick on offense. Running game looks nice, o-line d-line has been physical. We'll be ready. The heat at this point in time a lot of guys haven't played in a while, so cramps are starting to come into play. So we're still getting into the swing of things and by Saturday, oh yeah, we'll be ready."
Abrams-Ward has already proven that he is ready. Long and athletic, he has made an early impact at his fresh position on the defensive side of the ball. He has been tough to block on the outside and will make the quarterback's job awfully difficult when he is rushing off the edge, particularly in the quick passing game. His length and athleticism have proven to be a good combination for deflecting passes.
Still, no matter how well Abrams-Ward does this week on the defensive side of the ball. He knows where his future is.
"I'm a 6-5 wideout," he said. "You don't have too many of those and if you do they're in the NFL or they're just on top of the charts on the next level. For me to be able to play that position on the next level, that would say something and that says that the coaches see something in me obviously and I'm gonna have to go prove them right."
Abrams-Ward claims that most of the schools recruiting him agree that he is a wide receiver in the future but only four should start drawing up plays for the tall athlete.
"I've narrowed it down to Boston College, North and South Carolina and Tennesse.," he explained. "So I'm gonna take my officials on that and then I'm gonna choose. January 11th I'll be at North Carolina. The 18th I'll be at Tennessee and after that I've got to figure out South Carolina and Boston College."
North Carolina and Tennessee see Abrams-Ward as a wide receiver while Boston College and South Carolina have some thoughts about his play at quarterback. Abrams-Ward doesn't seem to mind one way or another as long as he can find his way onto the field.
"Boston College they're talking to me as a quarterback," he said. "They had a fifth year senior that hadn't played yet. They've got two redshirt freshmen that haven't played yet. So I mean there's a possibility there for me coming in as a Freshman."
South Carolina has gotten even more creative with its plans for the unique talent.
"South Carolina is talking about kind of a dual thing quarterback and wideout," he said. "It doesn't matter to me. Every choice that I have right now looks bright so I just gotta go out and take my official visits and see what comes."
Heading into the Shrine Bowl game on Saturday, Abrams-Ward has an all-star games to win, official visits to take and not only a school but a position to select.
"Hence the term athlete," Abrams-Ward responded.
But somehow that term just doesn't say enough.