No. 3 brother No. 1 on recruiters' lists

High schools: Gilman's Victor Abiamiri may follow his siblings and play for Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, but his options hardly end there.

High Schools

August 29, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Still a couple of weeks from his 16th birthday and little more than a month removed from an All-Metro football season, Gilman junior defensive end Victor Abiamiri found himself across the desk from a man offering him a very big job.

"We need you to help us win a national football title," said Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, looking deep into Abiamiri's eyes during an unofficial recruiting visit to the campus in January. "You are the final piece to the puzzle."

"He got right to the point, didn't mince words," said Rita Abiamiri, who was also in Friedgen's Byrd Stadium office during the 10-minute meeting, when he offered the youngest and largest of her three sons a scholarship.

Robert, 19, and Paschal, 18, Mount St. Joseph graduates, already are scholarship players for the Terps.

Within a week of his visit, Abiamiri received a handwritten letter from Terps defensive line coach Dave Sollazo. "Everybody wants you here, Victor, especially me," the letter read. "There's a lot of excitement on this campus for you and your family. What a great place to be and get a good education."

But it appears the Terps will have to stand in line. Though Maryland is among the final six colleges Abiamiri, now a senior, is considering, just about every major Division I school is after him.

"He's a guy who has gotten offers from the big three in Florida - Florida State, Florida and Miami," said a California-based recruiting analyst, Brian Stumpf, an editor with Student

"A handful of Gilman players have gone Division I, but nobody's been recruited like this," said Gilman coach Biff Poggi, whose Greyhounds take on nationally ranked DeMatha of Hyattsville on Friday night at Morgan State. "No disrespect to the other guys, but we've never had anyone like Victor at Gilman."

A powerfully constructed 6 feet 5, 240 pounds, Abiamiri darts around the field with the grace of a running back or wide receiver. He is rated among the top three defensive end recruits and the 24th-best overall prospect by The Sporting News/Student Sports football preview magazine.

He has clocked a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, bench-pressed 320 pounds and recorded a 38-inch vertical leap. A center in basketball and a champion shot-putter, discus thrower and triple-jumper, Abiamiri has been an honor roll student all three years at Gilman, carrying an A-minus average and scoring 1,140 on the SAT.

Like his brothers, who are both wide receivers at Maryland, Abiamiri never played a down of organized football before high school. But in only three years, the youngest Abiamiri has developed into the most sought-after recruit out of Baltimore since Dunbar's Tommy Polley (Florida State) and McDonogh's Bobby Sabelhaus (Florida) in the mid-1990s.

"I'd like to say we developed him," Poggi said, "but he was already a Rembrandt when he came to us."

All the tools

"As a freshman, you'd have never believed he hadn't played football. Victor was just well-equipped mentally and physically to pick up information, process it and execute," said Gilman defensive line coach Johnny Foreman.

"Things like using your hands to get separation from the offensive linemen, your speed in stepping with your power foot into the area closest to the point of attack, the swim and the spin move. His range of motion was almost natural."

Said Stumpf: "You're talking about a guy who could change your defense over the course of four years."

Gilman assistant Keith Kormanik sent nearly 40 highlight videos of Abiamiri to recruiters beginning in December, and they all seemed similarly impressed.

Virginia coach Al Groh wrote: "Victor, just finished watching your film. I want to coach you."

What did Groh and the others see?

In a game against Mount St. Joseph, Abiamiri is shown bolting past a stocky lineman for a sack. Then Abiamiri plows through a double team, pushing one blocker aside, the other to the ground. Sack. Later, obstructed by a defender, he jumps and stretches his left hand skyward to deflect.

Mount St. Joseph quarterback Nick Tanis can attest to what it's like to face Abiamiri.

"Victor's the kind of player that, when you go to block him, he won't stay blocked. He gets close by, with his long arms, and he's so fast, that it's hard to get away," Tanis said. "You're trying to keep your eyes on your receivers down the field, but you have to try to keep one eye on him every single play."

At his home in Randallstown, Victor Abiamiri is "Ikechukwu," his Nigerian middle name, which means "God's power." He is still the "little boy in our house," said his mother, Rita, whose other two sons each stand 6-3.

Victor has the tiniest of the siblings' bedrooms, with a bed so short, his feet dangle off its end.

In the Abiamiris' living room, hangs a plaque reading, "God made us a family." Photos of the boys - all of whom attended a small, Catholic school in Randallstown called Holy Family - depict them dressed in coats and ties.

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