It’s 10:00 am on a September Saturday morning. At Omaha Central High School, the junior varsity football team is taking the field to play a game against Millard North. On the sideline, there’s a tall, lithe figure. He walks up and down the sideline, offering encouragement, handing out water, doing whatever he can to help.
He doesn’t belong there. Not this kid. But he’s there anyway. First of all, he’s a senior. Seniors can’t play JV. Not to mention, he started on both sides of the ball for the varsity team on Friday night. He’s the starting quarterback and corner back. He’s got no real reason to be there, other than the fact that he wants to be.
Fast forward to Tuesday. Abraham Hoskins, III strides confidently onto the practice field, a wide smile spread across his face. He’s not thinking about what’s happened in the past. “It’s all about having that tunnel vision and getting into that mindset of getting to those goals,” he said.
He’s hard to bring down. Not just in the football sense, but in mental sense. His team, Central, has struggled mightily the past few seasons. They’ve had 3-6 seasons in 2018 and 2016, with an 0-9 campaign sandwiched in between. The entire program has been in flux. Long time head coach Jay Ball retired following the 2016 season, Hoskins’s freshman year. Central hired alum Lance Griffin as his replacement, but an 0-9 campaign was too much to survive. So, in 2018, Hoskins had his third head coach in as many years.
For most, the uncertainty would be a downer. But Jay Landstrom, now in his second year as the head Eagle, hasn’t seen it from Hoskins. “He’s been our anchor,” Landstrom said. “Really high-character kid.”
Through all of it, Hoskins has found his own success. “Not many quarterbacks start both sides of the ball,” Landstrom said. “He’s a shutdown corner and he’s our leading producer on offense.”
In a 3-6 season last year, Hoskins managed 804 yards passing and 206 yards on the ground and accounted for 13 total touchdowns. On defense, he served as the lockdown corner on the state’s best receivers. Notre Dame commit Xavier Watts had only 3 catches for 34 yards against Central. Watts had 3 catches for 42 yards against Central in week three of this season. Nebraska commit Zavier Betts managed only 2 catches for 32 yards when Bellevue West played Central a year ago.
It was his defensive prowess that caught the eye of South Dakota State’s Dan Jackson. In March of 2019, the Jackrabbits offered Hoskins a scholarship to play football. On June 22, Hoskins accepted the scholarship.
“First, definitely, I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do, school-wise. That’s the first goal. I’m looking into pharmacy,” Hoskins said. It’s not surprising from a player who is referred to by his coach as a high-character kid.
Before he heads off to Brookings, there’s business to attend to in Omaha. “Our team goal is to make it to the playoffs,” Landstrom said. “He’s been committed to that.” His on-field production through three games in 2019 has almost outpaced his entire nine-game output from a season ago. It’s an uncommon level of dedication that has brought him here.
Commitment is not foreign to Hoskins. As Landstrom said, not many varsity quarterbacks also play defense in high school football.
And again, not many would be up before 10:00 am, roaming the sidelines at the junior varsity game, coaching up quarterbacks and handing out water.
But that’s Hoskins in a nutshell: uncommon.
Catch Abe Hoskins and Omaha Central take on Omaha Bryan on Friday, September 20th, on GameTime at 7p.m. and streaming Live on yurview.com.