Incoming Wisconsin receiver A.J. Abbott put together a stellar career for West Bloomfield High School in Michigan. He recorded 1,200 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns during his senior season and helped his team win conference and regional titles. He finished his high school career with 2,928 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.
Abbott recently spoke with Land of 10 and shared some stories from his recruitment, as well as advice he learned along the way. Here is Abbott’s recruiting rewind:
Q: If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be? This is something you wish you knew this time last year.
Abbott: What I learned is colleges, big colleges, if you want to go Big Ten, Power 5, they care about speed and 40 times. That was what separates good from great. And even if you’re not even that good at football, if you have that speed, they want you.
My biggest advice is get faster, get in the weight room, work on your hamstrings, squats, glutes, anything just to get faster. Get the speed part down first. The size, that comes with life naturally because you’re already in the weight room as it is. But it’s just the speed aspect that really separates people.
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
Abbott: Michigan State. They came in second. What they could’ve done … They had some problems over there with their team and with their coaches. It was a lot of issues over there with the team, so I don’t think getting into that would have been great. But I think the coaches over at Wisconsin cared about me a little more than Michigan State. I think they had my best interest better than Michigan State coaches did.
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
Abbott: Some mail. I think some mail was the best. They spammed my mail. They gave me like 20 different pieces of mail, all in one big packet with nice wraps and it had my name printed on it. It had a little photo of me and stuff. The mail was from each and every coach writing their own mail to me about what they think about me and what I can do for that team. So I think that was pretty cool.
Q: Which team was that?
Abbott: That was Wisconsin.
Q: What is the funniest thing any head coach said to you during the entire recruiting process, either on the phone or in person?
Abbott: I think [Paul] Chryst was the funniest. We went in his room, and he’s a pretty funny guy. He’s quiet, but he’s also funny. So we went in his room and he was blasting country music. I came in and I had this face on. I was like, ‘Man, what is this?’ He could tell I don’t listen to this. It was funny. He was really booming it. He was blasting it while we were talking, so I think it was funny.
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to and tell him you weren’t coming there?
Abbott: Michigan State and Eastern Michigan. [Kirk] Ferentz at Iowa. Those three were pretty hard. Every one was pretty hard, but those were the hardest because I liked those teams. I liked the coaches. For Eastern, I really built a relationship with their coach because they started recruiting me at a young age. So, I knew them. That was pretty hard.
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting? Maybe they said they were going to call you back and they didn’t?
Abbott: I got plenty of those. At a young age, Ohio State, I wanted to get on them. I liked them. They didn’t call me back. They didn’t answer anything. Michigan State pissed me off a lot because they weren’t offering, they weren’t recruiting really that hard. They didn’t offer until the end. So Michigan State, Ohio State and Syracuse. Syracuse pissed me off, too. I don’t like how they were recruiting.
Q: Did Syracuse offer you a scholarship?
Abbott: No, they didn’t. They kept playing around the whole time and did not offer. It was irritating.
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest?
Abbott: That’s a hard one because each coach has a different personality. I would say Iowa. Ferentz. He was really chill. He didn’t have many words. It was very quiet, but it was cool.