Two years ago, it seemed Johnathan Abram was destined for a big career at Georgia.
As a true freshman in 2015, Abram started three of the 10 games he appeared in and received quite a bit of playing time, especially when Georgia went to its nickel package. That season, however, ended with the firing of former head coach Mark Richt and with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt — who played a vital role in Abram heading to Georgia — leaving for the same job at Alabama.
Abram decided to leave Georgia too and went the junior college route for the 2016 season. After one season at Jones County Junior College, Abram committed to Mississippi State. Through three games, Abram has totaled 11 tackles with a half-sack as a rotational safety.
On Saturday, Abram will step back inside Sanford Stadium, albeit in a different uniform and on the other side of the field.
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Throughout the week, multiple Georgia players who spent time with Abram were asked about his return with Mississippi State. The only two defenders who played with Abram in 2015, and were made available to speak with reporters this week, didn’t have much to say.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith said he hasn’t spoken much with Abram since he left.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who normally speaks at length during interviews, was asked if he remained in touch with Abram and if it would be strange to see him in a Mississippi State jersey.
Carter’s response: “No and no. That’s it.”
Mississippi State did not make Abram available for this story.
The only player this week to say he remained in communication with Abram is receiver Terry Godwin, who said he exchanged text messages with Abram on Monday.
“It was, ‘Go out there and practice hard this week. Be ready for Saturday,’ ” Godwin said.
While Abram decided to leave the program on his own volition, Godwin still considers him a part of Georgia since he played his freshman season with the Bulldogs.
Godwin added he is happy to see Abram contributing with Mississippi State.
“For any Bulldog to leave, it’s tough to see them go,” Godwin said. “You build that bond with them. Over time you’re going to have that bond, and you’re still going to communicate wherever they are.”
Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich remembered Abram as a “funny dude” who had a “big personality.”
Blazevich said seeing Abram line up for another team won’t be odd since it’s something that has happened before — notably with Georgia Tech running back J.J. Green, who played against the Bulldogs last year after beginning his college career in Athens.
“This stuff just comes up in our business,” Blazevich said. “Coaches move around all the time. We’ve seen that a lot here. Players do the same thing. They’ve got to put themselves in the best place that they feel to succeed.”
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has been pleased with what Abram has brought to his program. Abram helped keep the safeties fresh, and he has been able to quickly pick up the playbook.
A lot of that has to do with playing for Pruitt at Georgia, since there is a lot of overlap between his and Mississippi State defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s defensive scheme.
“He obviously played in this style of defense a little when he was a freshman, so I think there’s a little bit of understanding in the schemes,” Mullen said. “That helped him pick it up faster. He has a tremendous work ethic and a drive, and he’s unbelievably self-motivated to go out there and seize those reps.”
Mississippi State at Georgia
7 p.m., Saturday