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TCU safety Abe Camara has been a breakout star during spring football

With 10 starts in 27 games, including the first eight of the 2022 season, safety Abe Camara has been a key reserve for the TCU football program the last two seasons

Camara was just outside the top five leaders in tackles in 2022 and 2023 despite not being a full-time starter. In 2022 Camara showed flashes of being a high-level starter with eight tackles and an interception against SMU followed by a five-tackle performance against Oklahoma that included a bone-crushing hit that forced a fumble.

After being the first man off the bench in the safety rotation, Camara has elevated himself from a reserve to a breakout star during the first half of TCU’s spring training camp.

Andy Avalos’ attacking style of defense fits Camara’s play style like a glove and Camara has enjoyed the process of trying to master it.

“Spring has been pretty good,” Camara said after TCU’s sixth spring practice Wednesday. “Obviously I’m trying to learn the new defense with Andy Avalos, I’m just trying to play my role and fit in, but everything is coming along so I feel pretty good.”

Camara has shifted from being more of a cover safety to the nickel safety in Avalos’ defense. He gets to play at the line of scrimmage where his superb reaction time and quickness allows to constantly blow up plays.

Like in Fridays’ practice where Camara blew up at least three quick passes near the line of scrimmage. Camara has lived in the backfield during spring practice and his physicality has shown up against the run and against quick screen passes.

Sonny Dykes believes Camara has taken one of the biggest leaps on the roster.

“The nickel position I think is perfect for Abe,” Dykes said. “It allows him to play football and probably not think as much. Abe’s such a fast processor, it just allows him to go out and play and play with his instincts. He’s got really good instincts and you don’t want to do anything to slow those instincts down.”

Most coaches will tell you they don’t want their players having to think too much on the field. That one second it can take to remember your and your teammates’ responsibility in zone coverage could be the difference between a touchdown and interception.

Now that’s mostly off the table for Camara as his job is now mainly reading, reacting and attacking with physicality. He plays and hits hard, but there’s a certain joy that also comes from his play style in this new scheme.

“Last year I was in the post, mostly guarding (receivers),” Camara said. “This year I’m in the box more and I play off receivers more so it’s a mixture of linebacker and safety... The most fun thing about this defense is I can go sack the quarterback. I didn’t get to do that much in the last defense.

“That’s always something I wanted to do at TCU, pursue the quarterback. So that and playing the gaps as a hybrid linebacker-safety position has been fun.”

If you haven’t seen Camara play it may sound like he’s a big-bodied 6-foot-3, 220 pound hard nose safety, but while he has the hitting power of one, Camara’s stature is much smaller.

He’s listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, but that could be an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than he actually is. Even so, if you had to pick who the hardest hitter on TCU’s defense is, Camara would be one of your first answers.

“You look at Abe and he doesn’t look like much, but man, he’s a big time football player,” Dykes said. “He’s just explosive and physical. He plays so much bigger than he is, so yeah I really like that position for him and if he continues to improve he’s got a chance to be a really good football player at that spot.”

Receiver Jack Bech has spent a lot of time going against Camara this spring as an inside receiver. When asked about how Camara was performing this spring, Bech’s face lit up with excitement.

“Iron sharpens Iron. I love going against Abe,” Bech said. “He always bring its everyday, it doesn’t matter what period we’re in. It doesn’t matter if we’re doing a walk through, he’s flying around. You need great players around and he’s definitely going to lead that defense. Abe is an animal, you can just look at him and tell he has that dog in him.”

Camara said that he never thought about leaving TCU even after the Horned Frogs parted ways with former defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie. His patience and loyalty to the school is now paying off as he’s playing best ball in the new defense.