Those two offers grew to a dozen, then to more than 50 by his senior season. And as the mail grew, the phone calls to Friendship Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Goldman’s parents multiplied. The attention will reach its peak on Feb. 1 — National Signing Day, when Goldman announces the school of his choice — a decision three years in the making, hundreds of hours of conversations, phone calls, text and Facebook messages, and thousands of dollars in the making.
On that Wednesday, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Goldman, who hates the spotlight and didn’t start playing organized football until the eighth grade, will make his announcement in front of a horde of television cameras and other assembled media members he often has done his best to avoid.
He’s ‘difficult to impress’
The laundry list of coaches to have come through Abdul-Rahim’s cramped, messy football office (with a leaky refrigerator) to talk to or about Goldman is a virtual who’s who of Bowl Championship Series schools.
Maryland’s offer, which came when James Franklin, a Terps assistant at the time, and Abdul-Rahim met Goldman at a takeout restaurant in Northeast. Now, the Terps are one of seven finalists on Goldman’s list, along with Alabama, Auburn, California, Clemson, Florida State and Miami.
“I was told that it was going to be a trip with the recruiting letters and talking to these coaches and meeting these coaches that you’ve seen on TV for the last decade,” said Goldman’s father, Eddie Muhammad, who changed his name from Goldman about 10 years ago. “I was being told that it was going to happen. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to see that day.’ ”
Those close to Goldman tried to shield the player early in the recruiting process. Until late this summer, Abdul-Rahim didn’t give out Goldman’s cellphone number to college coaches, instead fielding the calls himself. When Goldman took 15 unofficial visits to 13 schools over the past two seasons to help whittle down his list, Abdul-Rahim was on nearly every trip.
The coaches see plenty to be awed about in Goldman — mammoth size, powerful hands and an explosive jump off the ball for a defensive tackle. Those around Goldman, however, make sure they approach his recruitment like a business deal.
“You have to look out for the best interest of your child at the end of the day,” said Muhammad, who works the graveyard shift at an electrical supply company. “You can’t be like, ‘Wow.’ I let certain coaches know, ‘Yeah, I know who you are. I’ve seen you ball.’ But you have to be level-headed about it all.”
Added Abdul-Rahim: “That’s where [Goldman’s] personality helps him for the glitz and the glamour. It’s difficult to impress him.”