Kareem Ali always planned on his commitment ceremony being special from the day he started playing football years ago, but he didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation until Thursday afternoon at Timber Creek High School in New Jersey.
He sat in a pre-engineering class just an hour before he was set to choose between Louisville, Pittsburgh and Maryland in a ceremony at the school, and he tried to quell his nerves by listening to music.
He was probed all day by students and teachers about what his decision would be, and was “a little nervous, I’m not going to lie. But I was ready,” Ali said.
In the end, out of all the schools that offered and he visited, Maryland was the only school he felt “secure, stable and safe.” And so once the time came, the Timber Creek (N.J.) junior defensive back one committed to the Terps in a short ceremony.
“I didn’t feel that at any other school…like I am in my household. They made me feel comfortable, and that’s all I needed,” Ali said. “I’m ecstatic.”
Maryland’s staff is most likely ecstatic, too, as Ali is considered one of the Terps’ top targets in the class of 2015.
Ali, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection, should give Maryland youthful depth at the position once he arrives in College Park next year. The Terps have a veteran crop of defensive backs returning this fall — including seniors Alvin Hill and Jeremiah Johnson, as well as juniors A.J. Hendy, Anthony Nixon and Sean Davis — and Ali could represent a key piece in the secondary’s future. He plans to enroll early and arrive on campus in January.
“I’m going to come in and do what I’m supposed to so I can play early. So they can have trust and faith even as a freshman,” Ali said. “I want my whole team to feel like that.”
Maryland has now had four class of 2015 recruits commit in the last week, which includes Oxon Hill defensive tackle Keiron Howard, Fort Hill running back Ty Johnson and Frankfort (W.V.) quarterback Gage Shaffer.
Ali has earned high marks on the recruiting circuit over the past year. He is labeled as a four-star prospect and the seventh-rated cornerback in New Jersey by Rivals and a three-star recruit by 247sports.com.
He is known to have top-end speed, but he is still refining his body ahead of college, he said. He wants to add a little weight and he will use his senior season to add seasoning at corner. He spoke with Maryland Coach Randy Edsall on Thursday, he said.
“He’s extremely excited. He just told me to be the class leader,” Ali said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Here are more highlight’s from Ali’s junior season: