Micah Abernathy, the 4-star cornerback who committed to Tennessee over UGA last month, will be joined at Tennessee by his older brother next season.
Ralph David Abernathy IV, who played football at Cincinnati and will graduate in December with a finance degree, will enroll at Tennessee in January as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility.
The family discussed this option with coaches from Tennessee, UGA and Ohio State before settling on the Volunteers. Ralph, who plays slot receiver and returns punts and kickoffs, cemented the deal while visiting Tennessee this weekend.
The father of the brothers, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy III, talked to the AJC on Sunday.
What are your thoughts about it working out with your sons being able to play together at Tennessee next season? “I’m glad to see it. Having a medical injury is always a concern for a parent. With that putting him (Ralph) in a medical hardship, he was either going to have to play at Cincinnati next year or find another school. It just became a natural fit with Tennessee with Butch was there. And (Jones) recruited him originally to Cincinnati (before leaving after the 2012 season). And his brother (Micah) will be going there. It worked out really well after he got his release from Cincinnati and his one-time graduate transfer from the NCAA.”
This was supposed to be Abernathy IV’s senior season at Cincinnati but he took a medical redshirt after playing in two games. What happened? “He had a nagging hamstring injury and heel spurs injury from the summer. So it went into the beginning of the season, and we came to the conclusion that he couldn’t do it any longer. So he got a medical redshirt.”
How serious did the conversations get with UGA about Abernathy IV playing there? “It was just something I mentioned in passing. They seemed to be interested because of his talent and skill. But there are a lot of different things that this entailed, such as having a scholarship available. The interest was there, but it just seemed like a better fit at Tennessee. Georgia wasn’t quite sure if a scholarship would be available at the time, while Tennessee had one. And with Georgia, that’s quite understandable. You don’t really always know how the numbers are going to play out. A lot of things change over a period of time, and you kind of have to wait it out until around this time and then you get a better idea on who is coming and who is not. It just worked out better at Tennessee.”
How long had this been in the works between Abernathy IV and Tennessee? “Probably two or three weeks.”
I guess you’ve got to be happy that you won’t have to go to two different locations for games every Saturday next season? “We don’t mind traveling. We love football. We never missed a home game at Cincinnati in four years when Ralph David played. My wife and I made every home game. It wouldn’t have been a problem if Ralph David had stayed at Cincinnati, or picked Georgia or Ohio State. It wouldn’t have been a problem. It just turned out that Tennessee was the best natural fit, and now we can see both of them in one place.”
Micah Abernathy is a 6-foot-1 senior at Greater Atlanta Christian high school.
Ralph David Abernathy IV is a 5-foot-7 speedster who has averaged 25.1 yards per kick return at Cincinnati.