SAN ANTONIO - Ohio State commit Etienne Sabino walked in the door Sunday morning and immediately got excited. He made it to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It became a reality.
"I've been here for a half hour and I've never seen so much press in my life," Sabino said. "It's a dream to come play in this game. It's the best high school players in the country. You always want to strive to be the best and I'm on my way there."
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Sabino, the top-rated inside linebacker nationally, finished with 150 tackles this season and had 131 stops and eight sacks as a junior. Miami (Fla.) Dr. Krop coach Rick Davita has described Sabino as a 'weight room warrior' and the 6-foot-3, 222-pound recruit said his dedication has paid off because he's dodged injuries the last few years. It has also helped him put up such gaudy numbers.
"You don't really notice it," Sabino said. "When you play, you just play. You don't say, 'I've had one or two tackles.' It just happens."
Originally from New York City, Sabino said he did not acclimate well to south Florida when he first moved there but he has taken to the surroundings. No doubt about that. Sabino has developed into one of the best players in the area and the top-rated inside linebacker at his position in the country.
He picked the Buckeyes over offers from Florida, Southern California, Notre Dame, Miami and many others. Playing high school football in such a talent-rich area also helps in his development.
"South Florida has a lot of talent," Sabino said. "They've proven it over the past few weeks with (Miami) Northwestern being No. 1 in the nation and (Miami) Booker T. (Washington) being ranked. It's a good place to try to brush up your skills and try to compete.
"At Ohio State, the people, the coaching staff and the environment are what impressed me the most. I felt like I could excel there both academically and on the field. That's a plus. I went there because I felt it was the best place for me. There are some other good players who feel the same way so it's just a plus."
Sabino is ranked as the No. 10 recruit in the Florida top 100 and No. 50 nationally regardless of position. He has been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 4.2 in the shuttle.