The state of Florida is arguably the best high school football talent hot-bed in the United States.
Every year, schools take chances on less-harolded kids from the Sunshine State, and come away extremely excited about their coups on the recruiting trail.
Mike London and the Virginia football program hope that rising freshman defensive end Naji Abdullah will yet another Florida diamond in the rough for the Cavaliers.
Abdullah originally committed to play for Florida A&M, but switched to the Wahoos shortly before National Signing Day.
Like seemingly every defensive line signee for the class of 2015, Abdullah is a terrific pass rusher from the edge, and thrives off of going after the quarterback. At 6-5, 230 pounds, Abdullah resembles that of a small forward playing defensive end.
The Jacksonville native played JV football for his first two years of high school, and was a reserve on the varsity squad the following season. After hitting a grow spurt and finally realizing his potential on the gridiron, Abdullah stepped into a starting role in 2015. In his first year as a starter, Abdullah registered 40 tackles, eight sacks, five pass selections, and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Let's take a closer look at the sleeper from Florida.
Name: Naji Abdullah
High School: Sandalwood High School (Jacksonville Fl)
Ranking: ESPN/247 3-star, Rivals 2-star.
Starting experience: One year
Abdullah is an excellent pass rusher from both the linebacker corps and the defensive line. As seen in the film above, Abdullah uses his towering frame and long arms to bother opposing quarterbacks, similar to Max Valles during his time in a UVa uniform. While taller defensive ends sometimes struggle to gain leverage, Abdullah's near-six-foot-six stature allows him to disrupt passing lanes, and cover more ground.
Like Valles, Abdullah will enter college football with a steep learning curve at defensive end. As a senior in high school, Abdullah was able to get by on his quickness and athleticism alone, but that will not fly at the college level.
Obviously he still has a ways to go, but Abdullah demonstrates the ability to chase down opposing rushers in the backfield. In the .40 mark of the highlight provided, Abdullah makes short work of the opposing blocker and purses the running back behind the line of scrimmage for a big tackle for a loss.
Abdullah is a virtual lock to redshirt.
There is a lot to like about his film, but Abdullah is nowhere near ready for college football at this time. Abdullah has the ideal height for a top pass-rusher, but his 230-pound frame leaves much to be desired. The Jacksonville product will need to spend ample time in the weight room this summer to fully grow into a college defensive end. Once Abdullah adds size and gains the necessary football IQ to compete at this level, he will be a ton of fun to watch.
Kwontie Moore, Mike Moore, and Trent Corney bring senior leadership to the defensive end position, but there literally no experience after them. Redshirt freshmen Chris Peace, Darrious Carter will be counted on to provide depth this season and beyond.
In addition, with recent departures on the line, a freshman could likely see time at end this fall…However, it will likely not be Abdullah.