The Senior Bowl announced today via Twitter that Virginia offensive tackle Oday Aboushi has accepted an invitation to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl, an all-star event that features the most likely candidates to be selected early in the NFL Draft.
Aboushi has started every game for the Cavaliers since the 2010 season. During that time, he's earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors four times. Last year, he was named Second Team All-ACC, and was one of 25 players named to this year's ESPN.com Preseason All-American Team.
Though the Virginia Cavaliers have not been able to replicate the 2011 season's success that took them to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Aboushi is finding his name more and more in the mix as NFL Draft analysts look at this year's crop of available OTs. Certainly, playing a role in this is Virginia's recent showing of life, in which the offensive line seems to have started clicking, offering the quarterbacks those extra precious seconds to develop the play.
SBNation described Aboushi this year as "more technically sound" with greatly improved footwork, and improved athleticism. ESPN said that they like "the way he uses his hands and he rarely loses once locked on. He slides feet well enough to keep defenders in front of him"
CBSSports.com wrote that a part of what makes his athletic accomplishments so impressive is his Muslim background. They wrote:
Aboushi is a practicing Muslim, which means the already disciplined life of a student-athlete has a few more constraints for him. There are prayer requirements. Muslims pray five times a day, at specific times. There's also a Friday prayer service. Aboushi isn't perfect - practice, class, and travel sometimes get in the way. But he does his best to fit all the prayers into his schedule. "I try to get all the prayers in," he told VirginiaSports.com last summer. "I do Friday prayers when I can, when we're not traveling." Aboushi also observes Ramadan, the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar. He's done it since high school, and each of the last two years, Ramadan has overlapped preseason practice in Charlottesville. Devout Muslims won't eat or drink anything from sunup until sundown during Ramadan, and Aboushi is devout. That means he sits out water breaks during practice and doesn't rehydrate with sports drinks until nightfall. Protein shakes? Training table spreads? Not for Aboushi. Not during daylight. He's up at 5 a.m. to eat a large breakfast, and then he's done for more than 12 hours, some of which are spent in calorie-burning, sweat-inducing workouts. "Some days are tougher than other ones," Aboushi told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It's about knowing the feeling of hunger, and being grateful you know where your next meal is coming from."
The 2013 Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 26 in Mobile, Alabama. During the week, players have the unique opportunity to meet with NFL coaches and representatives and learn tips and pointers on how to improve their stock leading up to the NFL Draft. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.