If Jack Abraham can lead Southern Mississippi to the Conference USA championship this season, he will need to send a thank you card to a small private school in Hattiesburg.
When training space has been hard to find during the pandemic, Abraham – the former Oxford High School standout – and several of his Golden Eagles receivers have been able to throw and catch at Sacred Heart Academy.
Soon college athletes will return to campus, but during the shutdown Abraham has tried to stay sharp with conditioning – and with visits to quarterback consultant David Morris in Mobile, Alabama, who he’s had a relationship with since eighth grade.
Abraham has made some visits to Oxford, but most of his shelter-in-place time has been in Hattiesburg.
For now, Sacred Heart has helped the Southern Miss passing game keep up.
“It’s been tough, but we’ve tried to work out there as much as we can. It’s been a big blessing,” Abraham said.
Abraham (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) played in 2017 at Northwest Mississippi Community College after spending a redshirt season at Louisiana Tech.
Even as he arrived in Senatobia, he had a relationship with Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson and believed he’d eventually end up in Hattiesburg.
After surviving a five-man competition in 2018 – and 5,843 passing yards later – Abraham is a fifth-year senior hoping to help the Golden Eagles finish stronger than a year ago. Southern Miss was 7-3 and contending to win Conference USA’s West Division when it lost its last two games against Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, the eventual overall champ.
Neither game produced shining moments for Abraham. FAU was a particular struggle with no touchdowns, four interceptions and three sacks in Boca Raton.
In addition, Abraham was injured in the Golden Eagles’ 30-13 bowl loss to Tulane. He had thrown a touchdown pass and rushed for a score but took a hard hit just before halftime and did not play again. Southern Miss finished 7-6.
He’s been a 70% passer with 34 touchdowns in two seasons, but Abraham has a clear goal for his final go-round, and that’s to improve decision-making, which he says has contributed to 25 interceptions.
“At times I’ve struggled with decision-making. Sometimes I think my arm’s too good, and I can fit it into tight windows when I really can’t,” he said. “It’s just being smarter with the ball, taking the check-downs when they’re there and being more protective.”
Abraham has a new position coach this season in Matt Kubik, who was hired in February after four years as offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe.
Abraham believes his experiences plus increased time in the film room can help him make better calls under duress.
“He’s got a really quick trigger, and he’s super accurate,” Morris said. “He’s got great touch. We’re really excited about where he is.”
Abraham is excited about where the Golden Eagles are and likes their chances to make amends for last season’s troublesome finish.
“We have the same talent, we return a lot of good guys,” he said. “It comes down to putting a full year together and not letting the last two games get to us.”