By Rick Atkinson, for the Anna-Melissa Tribune

Anna senior Abner Dubar realized a long-held dream on Dec. 18 at Anna High School.

Surrounded by teammates, coaches, family and friends, the Coyotes’ three-time All-District safety signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his athletic career at the collegiate level - and a big-time level it is.

Dubar will attend and play football for the University of Minnesota, an NCAA Division I FBS school whose Gophers compete in the Big 10 conference.

“It’s surreal,” Dubar said shortly after signing the requisite papers. “It’s been one of my dreams since I was, like, in elementary school. I’ve been watching college football and watching everybody on TV and I told myself that one day I was going to do that. I came here and did it, and I’m just thankful.”

As for Minnesota, Dubar said, “I love the culture. I love Coach [P.J.] Fleck, I love all the coaches. I feel like they’re doing something really special with everything. This year, they were 10-2 and broke a lot of records. He’s going to grow the program and we’re going to be real good. I’m just happy to a part of a program like that.”

Indeed, after a stellar 2019 campaign, the No. 18 Gophers will face No. 12 Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

Regarding now getting to compete in the Big 10 with the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State, Dubar said, “It’s big boy football now.”

Recently named a First-Team All-District pick for Anna, Dubar was also just tabbed the Coyotes’ 2019 team MVP. Dubar said he will remember the “trials and tribulations” he went through as he matured through his high school years.

“I’m not a perfect kid. I made some mistakes and stuff. I feel like that helped me grow into the young man that I need to be … and be where I’m at today.”

Dubar said he would miss the “community feeling” Anna provided and the bonds he made here. “College is going to be a community feeling but it’s not like how Anna is.”

Dubar plans to study business at Minnesota with an eye toward getting into real estate one day.

Anna head coach Jason Heath said Dubar’s physicality helped make him a defensive standout.

“He’d come downhill and, essentially, lay the wood to you. He was not afraid to go make contact. That was one of the first things I remember his sophomore year, playing Quinlan Ford – him coming down on the third play of the game and hitting their running back. It kind of set the tempo for the rest of the game. The rest of the season, his ability to play just grew with confidence more and more as he matured.”

Heath noted that Dubar was also a talented running back for Anna.

“He rushed for over 1,500 yards for us in the three years he was here and averaged, I think, over five yards per carry. I know he’s going to do well up there with P.J. Fleck and the program he’s running. We’re excited for him.”

Dubar, who moved from Little Elm to Anna during his eighth-grade year, was joined at the signing by a large contingent of friends from Little Elm.

“I just have so much emotion going on,” said Dubar’s mother, Albertina Nyantee. “I’m happy, I’m sad and I’m anxious that he’s going to be leaving home for the first time. But I just know that God is going to be in charge.

“He knows exactly what he wants and he’s very focused. And I believe he’s going to be great. He’s not going to be distracted. That’s what I draw my strength and energy from – that he knows exactly what he wants to do. … It’s been awesome going to his games. He’s a leader.”