DJ James in Auburn, and Chris Abrams-Drain from Missouri together again

This Saturday is the date that Chris Abrams Drain has been around for so long.

The defensive back will be reunited in Missouri, the first time the mobile footballer has played in his state since heading west in 2020, and will have family and friends traveling three hours north to be in the stands at Jordan Hare Stadium.

Abrams Drain will also have a friend on the opposite sideline in Auburn defensive linebacker DJ James. These will be years of a reunion in the making, as the two get back together. They were youth league teammates and inseparable friends in high school, and played for the Spanish Fort team that went 32-7 in the three seasons they were together.

“We’ve come a long way,” said Abrams Dren. “We both still pursue our dream and do our best to make it come true. …and he’s just like my brother. Like, I call him my brother. We did everything together in high school, since freshman year, so (we) just built that bond and we’re close From this day.”

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Both of them have played big roles on their respective shows. James was one of Auburn’s best defensive linebackers in three games despite the team’s poor start. He made his first start against Penn State and scored four tackles and break assists. He’s been targeted 12 times in three weeks, more than any other Auburn defender, and only allowed three times.

“DJ James brought a lot of experience to the unit, and he brought a lot of experience from Oregon,” Zion Buckett told Safety in Auburn. “I just feel like playing alongside him is so amazing – with every match, he’s getting so much more confident.”

Abrams-Draine came to Missouri as a receiver and moved to the defensive back as a sophomore, but he made quick work of changing the situation, producing 37 tackles, three interceptions and 10 PBUs a year earlier, and was already considered by some as one of the best draft prospects.

Their success in college football began with roots planted in Mobile, as they played in the same youth league, and even on the same team for a year on Mobile Panthers. Drew Thomas, who coaches the traveling Panthers team, coached both James and Abrams-Drain as they got older, and said, “They are both like sons to me.”

“They pushed each other,” Thomas said. “It was always a competitive thing, but it was friendly, it was like friendly competition. They always respected each other. They were always, you know, pushing each other to improve.”

While the two had known each other since a young age, their friendship blossomed once Abrams Drain reached high school. Chris’ mother, Pamela Abrams, and DJ’s father, Desmon James, remember the duo being inseparable.

They were best friends, man,” said Desmon. “I mean, when I tell you, Chris was coming over to my house, spending the night, the weekend, and then my wife would cook good Sunday dinner and all that good stuff, and then the DJ would go to (Chris)”) your mom’s house and spend the night or weekend”.

Abrams-Drain was a prominent athlete at Spanish Fort, and played several positions on the football field, including his first year as quarterback, as well as basketball for team Taurus on his way to being considered an outstanding receiving player.

James has settled into football, and has been shining between the sidelines, scoring 43 tackles, 6 interceptions and 16 PBUs as a big kicker, but Ben Blackmon remembers the defensive back was somewhat under-recruited as he headed to Oregon out of high school. Then the head coach at Spanish Fort, Blackmon also mentioned the friendly competition between James and Abrams Drain.

“They are both good friends, and they both believe in themselves so much, and they both will tell you that they will win the battle between each other,” Blackmon said.

Neither Blackmon nor Abrams Drain remember many specific encounters or moments. Their minds go back to the intensity of those competitions in practice, but one moment sticks with Chris, especially a maneuver against a DJ in front of about 20 college scouts.

“I guess it was me,” Abrams Drain says without hesitation.

For Blackmon, those competitions are what helped the duo the most.

“What time do you have to compete every day in training against the quality of an athlete that you both have, it just makes you better, you know?” Blackmon said. “This is the selling point about playing the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“They both wanted to play in SEC, they both got their chance, because when you play in SEC, you play against the best players day in and day out in training as well. So it really forces you to up your game every time.

“And it didn’t just make them better, it made our entire team better because they all saw how hard it was to compete and it made them want to compete like that too.”

Abrams Dren said the goal in high school was for the two of them to end up in the same college, but in the end it didn’t work out. However, whether James has been in Oregon or since returning to Alabama, the two remain close, with Abrams Drain even texting him from time to time to answer questions about his success coverage technique.

As much as everyone involved is looking forward to Saturday’s game, they are also looking forward to its end.

“I look forward to seeing DJ and Chris after the match, when they hug and see each other,” Desmon said. “For these guys, the only way they can see each other is by talking on the phone. They can’t really, get a hug or anything else, stuff like that, just the love they both have for each other, so that’s just what I want.” to see him.”

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