TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Running back D.J. Abnar and his Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln teammates have put the 2010 season and their state championship out of their minds. Since hitting the practice fields on Monday, the focus is on returning to Orlando and earning back-to-back titles.
"Everything has gone pretty good," Abnar said. "I saw a lot of energy at practice today. Everybody is going full speed. We are just getting better."
With running back Javorius Allen now departed due to graduation, the backfield is looking for a new leader. While signs point to it being by committee in 2011, Abnar is hoping to ascend to the top of the list of options.
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"I just feel like it is my opportunity to take the team on my shoulders," Abnar said.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound back is applying some lessons learned during his junior season.
"It taught me to work hard for what you want," Abnar said of winning the state title. "Also, to never give up because we won against all odds last year. We came out on top and that is because we fought for that."
Offense isn't the only place that Abnar contributes for Lincoln. His ability on either side of the ball is the reason colleges have been dropping by throughout the spring.
"I play both sides of the ball, offense and defense," Abnar said. "I think most teams are looking at me as an athlete. For me, it is wherever the team wants me."
Abnar shed a little light on his recruitment at this stage.
"I'll start off by naming my top five," Abnar said. "They are N.C. State, Tennessee, Illinois, FSU, and Georgia Tech. Only Illinois has offered me."
He talked about the interest from the Illini.
"Coach Paul Petrino is a pretty good coach," Abnar said. "He is just very warming. He talks to you on a personal level. He cares about more than just football. He cares about my schoolwork also. He is a pretty good coach to me. He just seems like he really wants me to come there."
Abnar said he is expecting a visit from Illinois in the next two weeks. He is hoping to make it to Champaign at some point this summer.
"I am talking to my parents about going to their camp," Abnar said.
When he visits the Big Ten program, as well as any other schools, he knows what he is looking for in his future home.
"I am going to look a lot at the program, the school itself, and the graduation rate of the student-athletes," Abnar said. "You are a student first, then an athlete. I also want to see how it feels, if it feels like home, like Lincoln High School."
Abnar has previously visited Florida and Florida State.