“I told Rachid that I didn’t feel like [Richard Montgomery] was the place I was supposed to be, and then we started talking about playing together again because we knew we could do some damage,” Veii said. “Rachid started talking up Avalon, so I went to visit there and I loved it.”
Veii transferred in the middle of the school year to Avalon and reclassified as a result. During the 2011 season, their first as Avalon teammates, the Black Knights went 10-1 with Ibrahim rushing for 1,241 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 125 carries. Meantime, Veii thrived as Avalon’s newest threat, scoring 18 times on only 56 touches at the running back, wide receiver and defensive back positions.
As lofty as these stats were, Ibrahim and Veii knew college coaches would be skeptical of the level of competition.
“Yeah, we dominated against the teams we played, but people wanted to see us against the top competition in the area and the nation,” Veii said. “One of our coaches, Coach [Brian] Karem, always says, ‘If you ball, they will call.’ So we went out to all the camps and combines we could in places like Maryland, Florida, Atlanta, and we always fared well.”
Veii was particularly impressive at Maryland’s one-day football camp last June. In the 40-yard-dash, Edsall clocked him at a blazing time of 4.27 seconds. The other coaches doubted Edsall’s time keeping and asked Veii to run it again, but after two more sprints timed at 4.3 seconds, Edsall had seen enough and offered Veii a scholarship on the spot.
Likewise, Ibrahim’s combine success helped garner offers from East Carolina, Ohio and Boston College. For a time, he hoped to get a scholarship from his dream school, Penn State, but the recent sanctions turned him off, opening the door for Pittsburgh, where he committed in November.
Around that same time, Veii, who had pledged to the Terrapins in June, reopened his recruitment after a discrepancy in his transcript led Maryland to briefly withdraw its offer. The matter was settled two weeks later after Veii earned credit for a course that should have counted toward his NCAA eligibility requirement. Since then, Maryland, along with Iowa and Nebraska, have reentered the picture as the senior’s finalists leading into Wednesday.
Both Ibrahim and Veii know that to some, their path to becoming a highly touted recruit sounds like something ripped from a fairy tale. But what’s surprising to some has long been an attainable goal in the minds of these two players.
“Coming in, we had a goal, and where people say you need somebody to believe in that goal, I believed in myself,” Ibrahim said. “All the so-called haters on Facebook and even grown men were saying I was crazy for going here, but I set that aside and the people at Avalon helped push me toward my goal.”