You can rewatch my screen record and slow mo version of the play here.
4th and 1, Rutgers 34 yard line. We’ve all been to this rodeo before. Pits in stomach and the inevitable gut punch. All our defense has to do is make one more stuff at the line. Just one, and this game’s over. Receiver goes in motion across the line in I-formation and of course myself, the announcers, and the entire stadium expects a power run inside. Peters fakes the handoff to his back and pitches to Brown, who takes it to the outside. Oh, that pit just got a lot bigger in my stomach.
At first it looks like Brown wants to cut back inside but Abraham has quickly sealed that off so Brown shifts to the outside. Abraham reacts, cuts on a dime (no idea how his hips allow him to do this), and rockets towards Brown. No dancing, no sitting back, he goes in for the tackle and brings Brown down securely 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Maybe I should title this story: How to tackle a Tank 101 by Kessawn Abraham.
We’ll never know what would have happened if Brown slips by Abraham. And I’m fine with that. For the first time in weeks, RU has a victory, on the road, against a team that smashed Penn State in the mouth the week prior. That same Penn Sate team that gave the Buckeyes all they could handle on Saturday night. As we are all learning, this is life in the B1G. There is no transitive property. If A beats B, and B beats C, you can almost bet C shows up at some point and puts a scare in A.
I admittedly knew little of Mr. Abraham when the team broke camp in September. Kessawn grew up in Brooklyn and went to high school at Erasmus Hall, where he not only played DB and WR for the football team but was also on the track team and ran in the Mayor’s Cup Track and Field championship in 2017 (that certainly explains why it looked like Chase Brown was running in slo mo as Abraham pursued him). The 17th overall prospect in New York, Abraham was a 2nd team all-NYC defensive player his senior season.
Kessawn arrived as a freshman on the banks in 2018 and tied for the team lead in tackles on special teams. He saw limited action in 2019 and then saw increased playing time as a junior in 2020, mostly on special teams. Abraham has enjoyed a breakout season in 2021, filling the stat sheet as a starter and becoming one of the team’s most reliable pass defenders. He is currently 2nd on the team with 6 pass breakups, including RU’s lone breakup in limited attempts against the Illini passing game Saturday. It’s obvious HC Schiano and DC Smith have an enormous amount of trust in #5 to have him covering the edge on the 4th and 1 season-on-the-line play. Here’s what Schiano had to say at the 4:05 mark during the post game press conference.
Indeed, Kess has been there every week. While I may be guilty of throwing expletives around after failed plays (I’m sorry Tre), Mr. Abraham has managed to avoid my armchair DB wrath. He has provided the lockdown coverage this team needed when Max Melton was out. Todderick Hunt, of Nj.com had this scouting report on Abraham after he received the Rutgers offer: “Abraham can cover. Despite being a bit undersized, Abraham excels at sitting in a receiver’s hip pocket, while having the ball skills to make plays on the pigskin. He is an elite mover with great twitch, is physical, has fluid hips, the reactionary quickness needed to recover and great turnover in his lower body. And he also excels in the slot, and encompasses a 39.5-inch vertical leap, 4.61-second 40-yard dash and 4.34-second shuttle.”
It’s fitting that on Halloween as I write about Kessawn and look at his Rutgers getting-to-know-me card, Mambas are his favorite candy and he’ll tell you he has a mamba mentality, the five key aspects being: honesty, detachment, optimism, passion and fearlessness. I’m hopeful later this season, Aaron can ask Kessawn about these characteristics as the team prepares for game #13.