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Pasadena Native Zach Abey Prepares for Transition On and Off the Field

| August 17, 2018

Senior Midshipmen Zach Abey is as tough as they come, and he’ll have to prove it this year as he prepares for his new role for his team on the football field and his country on the battlefield.


Zach Abey entered the 2017 Navy football season as the starting QB for the Mid’s and led the team to a 5-0 start, highlighted by an emotional win over Air Force when he marched the offense 75 yards in 11 plays and hit Tyler Carmona for the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds left.

The wheels fell off for Navy soon after that as the team lost six of their last seven regular season games. In that time Abey was injured during the 21-31 loss to UCF, replaced at QB by sophomore Malcolm Perry, and didn’t play in the 13-14 loss in the Army-Navy game. Despite the disappointing end of the season, Navy still earned their 15th appearance in a bowl game under head coach Ken Niumatalolo where Abey shined in a 49-7 route of the Virginia Cavaliers.

Abey Came off the bench for Navy in the Military Bowl, but that didn’t stop him from having a historic performance. Abey rushed for 88-yards on just 13 carries and tied an FBS record for most touchdowns in a bowl game with five, earning him MVP honors along the way.

Now, as he enters his senior year at the Naval Academy, Abey is making the transition into a new role. With the success of Perry, Abey has been moved over to wide receiver. A change that may come as a surprise when you consider that Abey owns the Navy football record for most consecutive games with 100-yards rushing (8), ties current Navy starting QB Malcolm Perry for most 200-yard rushing games in a season (2), and had the second most rushing yards in a season in Navy history with 1,413.

But the toughness and physical play that helped him to achieve those accolades are part of what Navy WR coach Mick Yokitis thinks will make him successful in his new role.

“His toughness, which we knew he had, has helped him come right into the group and has made for an easy transition,” said Yokitis, “We do a lot of blocking and a lot of physical stuff. He likes that part of the game.”

Abey doesn’t let his lack of experience at the position deter him from his responsibilities as a senior and a leader on the team. His experience with Navy’s triple-option offense forced him to learn the responsibilities of every player on the field and the WR group is no exception.

“I don’t see myself as a rookie at the position. The main thing about being a senior is just being a leader,” said Abey, “Giving effort every single time. It shows the younger guys because they look up to the older guys.”

 

It’s that same mentality that is going to help him have success in the next chapter of his life; life after the Academy. Abey said his goal is to transition from Navy to Marine life once he graduates.

He took his first steps in that direction this past summer when he went to Camp Leatherneck. Camp Leatherneck is an Afghan Armed Forces base in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

“I really liked it.” Said Abey. “A lot of guys from the team go. There is great team bonding and team building.”

Abey’s leadership, grit, and selflessness are what made him stand out in football, rugby, and wrestling at Archbishop Spalding High School. It’s what helped him lead Navy to multiple victories, earn an MVP in the Military Bowl, and put his name among some of the most legendary Midshipmen of all time. It’s what will make him an excellent Marine.

Coach Yokitis may have said it best, “He already has the leadership traits. We don’t want guys to talk. Abey is gonna lead by example. Don’t need to hear you talking, just go out and show the guys.”

It doesn’t get much more Marine than that.

For even more Navy and Anne Arundel County sports coverage, be sure to follow ShellBack Sports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @Shellbacksports

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About the Author - Kevin Chaney, Jr

Kevin Chaney covers sports all at all levels throughout Anne Arundel County. Follow him on twitter @Kchaneysports and his website www.Shellbacksports.com

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