Mychale Salahuddin wore a boyish grin as he sat on stage at H.D. Woodson’s auditorium, donning a University of Southern California sweatshirt as hats for both Pittsburgh and Syracuse laid out in front of him. It was finally the moment the one-time USC commit would make his college decision public — a choice he didn’t make until Wednesday morning, when he sent in his national letter of intent.
Salahuddin, the No. 5 ranked all-purpose back in the nation and the No. 1 prospect from Washington D.C., according to the recruiting website 247Sports’ composite rankings, first reached over for the orange Syracuse hat, examining it and placing it on his head before putting it back down. Taking off the USC sweatshirt, he unveiled a bright blue Pittsburgh shirt.
With that, the four-star running back had finally announced his decision: he would be heading to Pittsburgh in the fall.
“Pitt is definitely a powerhouse down there,” Salahuddin said after the ceremony. “It is a school that has a lot of great running backs and a running backs tradition.” Panthers’ players at the position in the NFL include LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills), Dion Lewis (New England Patriots) and James Connor (Pittsburgh Steelers).
With Salahuddin’s iPhone propped up on stage, Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi joined the ceremony on FaceTime. Narduzzi wasn’t about to miss this moment, and neither were the Woodson students who packed the auditorium to watch the event.
Salahuddin decommitted from the Trojans back in December, but still had it on his shortlist until the January departure of former USC running backs coach Deland McCullough to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The four-star running back averaged more than 10 yards per carry his senior season while rushing for 12 touchdowns and returning a kickoff for another. He will join former teammate and All-Met Jaylen Twyman at Pitt.
“Jaylen Twyman, that’s my man right there,” Salahuddin said. “He stayed in my ear the whole process. Telling me the ins and outs of Pittsburgh, so it was great to have him down there, experiencing the whole situation is definitely a boost that I had.”
Salahuddin — or “Houdini” as college recruiters have come to know him — followed a family tradition in attending H.D. Woodson. His grandmother, uncle and mother all went to the school.
“That’s once in a lifetime,” longtime assistant coach Wayne Johnson said of coaching Salahuddin. “I would say every 10 years you get a kid like that. So it’s outstanding in itself. A lot of people can’t even say you had one, but he’s one of many that when you talk his game, it is just tremendous.”
Four-star Noah Boykin chooses Notre Dame
H.D. Woodson defensive back Noah Boykin will attend Notre Dame in the fall, picking the Irish over Florida and Virginia. Boykin made his decision moments before Salahuddin made his, as the two sat side-by-side.
Boykin, a four-star defensive back, is the No. 2 player in D.C., according to 247Sports. Boykin chose Notre Dame after he decommitted from Maryland at the end of January.
“I had to restart the process all the way over with my decommitment from Maryland, so that pretty much was how I started,” Boykin said. “All the Notre Dame coaches worked hard in recruiting me, and they haven’t been there since day one so they had a lot of catching up to do. . . . They showed they loved and wanted me.”
Boykin said it was very stressful with all the social media inquires, but he sat down with family and friends and decided Notre Dame was the best decision for him at the end of the day. He knows it will get him out of his element coming from an inner-city public school, but he is excited for the challenge. He chose Notre Dame over the weekend and didn’t tell his family members until the actual ceremony.
“I kept it in all day,” Boykin said. “I got here and I was so nervous, I was sweating. It was crazy. I have been here all four years and look where it got me.”
At 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Boykin was an honorable mention All-Met this season.
“My whole thing is I want to go in and compete,” Boykin said. “I don’t want to go anywhere where I don’t work for something. They are working for a national championship and that is where I want to be and I think I can do it at Notre Dame.”
Salahuddin and Boykin join a handful of other top prospects from H.D. Woodson who will play next season at college football’s top level, including two-star linebacker Ish Robinson (Kent State), three-star wide receiver Edward Hendrix (Syracuse) and three-star cornerback Vincent Flythe III (Maryland), who all submitted their national letters of intent during the early signing period.