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Darez Diggs sparks Friendship Collegiate defense


Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim talks with Darez Diggs during an October 2011 game. (Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Game to watch: No. 3 Friendship Collegiate (6-0) at North Point (4-3), Friday, 7 p.m.

Friendship Collegiate senior Darez Diggs tallied only three receptions last season, yet still managed to keep his coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, intrigued by his potential. Diggs, Rahim said, was the team’s best blocking receiver, and the persistent aggression with which Diggs played made Rahim think the team and the player might mutually benefit from a position change.

This fall, as a safety, Diggs has recorded five interceptions for an undefeated Knights squad that will play Friday at North Point. Last season, Friendship claimed a narrow 15-14 win over North Point, which proved to be the Knights’ tightest victory margin of the season. Diggs and the rest of a Friendship defense that has yet to allow more than 10 points in a game this season will need to be equally stout against the Eagles.

On Tuesday, Diggs received his first Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer – from San Diego State, where Rahim played in the late 1990s – and in recent weeks he has drawn interest from several other FBS programs.

One of those programs is Maryland, where Diggs’s older brother, Stefon, is having a standout freshman campaign. Rahim said having to try to live up to the standard Stefon set in high school at Good Counsel — where he was the 2011 All-Met Defensive Player of the Year — and at a local university has aided Darez’s development.

“I think mentally it helps [Darez] because he’s a confident player, and he gets more confidence from the fact that his brother is doing so well at Maryland, and people expect him to play at a high level because of his bloodlines,” Rahim said.

Part of what Rahim said he believes makes Darez such an appealing recruit is the flexibility afforded by his age. Though a senior, Darez will not turn 17 until December. Schools have broached the possibility of Darez attending a prep school or a local community college in the fall of 2013 and then gray-shirting in the spring 2014 semester.

At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Darez currently possesses the size to be a strong safety at the collegiate level, Rahim said. But again, given his age, Darez’s specific future in the sport is fluid.

Darez “has been a pleasant surprise,” Rahim said. “And the fact that he’s still 16, he could get bigger and end up growing into something else.”

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