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UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA's Andrew Abbott proves he deserves attention

The former teammate of USC quarterback Matt Barkley at Mater Dei didn't get much of a look by recruiters. He came to UCLA as a walk-on and has a team-high four interceptions this season.

November 23, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA cornerback Andrew Abbott celebrates after making a late interception during the Bruins' victory over Washington State last month. Abbott has defied expectations since joining the Bruins as a walk-on.
UCLA cornerback Andrew Abbott celebrates after making a late interception… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

They all came to see Matt Barkley at Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Andrew Abbott, his teammate, would see recruiters from big-time college programs every day during visit periods. Few gave the smallish defensive back/receiver much of a look.

"None of them were interested in me," said Abbott, a junior cornerback at UCLA. "It was a little annoying they wouldn't talk to me when I knew I was good enough to play."

Abbott has proved that and will once again be on the field with his friend Barkley, USC's quarterback, Saturday at the Coliseum.

Barkley, a junior, is again drawing the attention. He is on the Heisman Trophy short list and is a future first-round NFL pick.

However, Abbott, who is listed at 5 feet 9 but appears to be closer to 5-7, has shown that he could play college football.

"Every now and then, one of those guys would talk to me when I was at Mater Dei, but they were there for other guys," Abbott said. "That's OK. It made me work harder. It made me hungrier. I knew it was about my size. I knew it wasn't about my talent."

Abbott came to UCLA as a walk-on and earned a scholarship last season. He has a team-high four interceptions, one clinched a 28-25 victory over Washington State. He was also a force in the Bruins' 29-28 victory over Arizona State with six tackles.

Last Saturday, Abbott intercepted two passes against Colorado.

"When you're a walk-on, the first thing you have to prove is that you belong to your peers," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Then you have to prove you belong on field. Now he's proving, not only that he belongs on the field, but that he belongs being at the front of the line."

Abbott said one of his bigger supporters has always been Barkley.

"We'll send each other a text after good games and talk on the phone every now and then," Abbott said.

Abbott was one of Barkley's favorite receivers at Mater Dei. He had 46 receptions for 790 yards as a senior. He also had 12 career interceptions.

Barkley and Abbott connected on a 97-yard touchdown pass against rival Anaheim Servite their senior year.

"Hopefully he'll flash back and still think I'm his receiver on Saturday," Abbott said. "Hopefully I'll get one."

Either way, Abbott has proved he is good enough.

"Some people use the word 'chip on your shoulder,' where you have that feeling that you have to do this," Neuheisel said. "That's what makes Andrew special."

Sick call

The flu continues to run through the Bruins. Abbott, cornerback Brandon Sermons and linebacker Todd Golper all missed practice Wednesday.

Running back Johnathan Franklin, cornerback Randall Carroll and guard Albert Cid returned to practice after missing it Tuesday.

Center Kai Maiava missed practice attending to a family matter. Defensive lineman Wesley Flowers left practice after he injured his left knee.

Good omen?

Patrick Cowan was a visitor at UCLA's practice Wednesday. Cowan helped the Bruins to their only victory over USC in the last 12 seasons, a 13-9 victory in 2006.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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