Cooper High School offensive lineman Eric Abojei (Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune)
Eric Abojei didn’t get to sign his national letter of intent Wednesday to play for Minnesota, but that didn’t change how he felt about national signing day.
The Cooper offensive lineman couldn’t sign because of academics, but might be able to soon once his SAT scores come Feb. 23.
Dressed in a maroon blazer with a gold bow tie, Abojei said he still was able to enjoy the day at his high school, where a ceremony honored him and 18 other Cooper student-athletes going on to play in college.
“I’m still really excited,” Abojei said. “I’m just ready to get these scores back and sign that official letter of intent. I’m ready to get out there and ball out.”
Cooper football coach Willie Howard said it was a somber moment when Abojei’s letter of intent didn’t arrive Wednesday, but said Abojei understood why it happened.
Howard said he knew a holdup was possible, but still thought throughout Abojei’s recruiting process that he could sign and wait for the test scores to arrive later.
“This is just a bump in the road,” Howard said. “At 325 pounds and 6-5, that bump is there, but he’s going to blow right through it.”
Before he learns his SAT score, Abojei plans to take the ACT on the weekend of Feb. 11. He needs at least a 920 on the SAT or above a 17 on the ACT, Howard said.
If he does not reach one of those scores, Abojei already has been offered a full scholarship to play at Iowa Western Community College as a plan B, Howard said.
Abojei was one of 17 football players honored at Cooper on national signing day. As he was introduced, he stood up with his Minnesota hat and smiled and waved to the cheering crowd.
William Abojei, Eric’s father, said the Wednesday development was unexpected but that he has been assured by Minnesota’s coaching staff that his son is someone they want.
“His mind is at U of M. They know him there,” William Abojei said. “He feels great and is very optimistic that the U of M is his chance.”
Mike Hendrickson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.