Friendship Collegiate Academy’s Aazaar Abdul-Rahim will take a leave of absence as football coach at the Northeast charter school for a defensive position on the coaching staff of Nick Saban at the University of Alabama, Abdul-Rahim confirmed.
Abdul-Rahim, 37, informed his players of the decision Tuesday. He said he was offered the position last week and will report to Tuscaloosa on Monday.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” Abdul-Rahim said. “Friendship is my home. Friendship is dear to me. It took a situation like this to kind of pry me away from it. It’s not every day that you get offered to be a part of, arguably one of the best coaches in his generation, be a part of his staff. You definitely got to take it.”
Jeff Purinton, an associate athletics director at Alabama, would not confirm the hire, citing the school’s policy of waiting until paperwork is complete.
Abdul-Rahim, a District native who attended Dunbar and later starred as a defensive back at San Diego State, founded the Friendship Collegiate varsity program in 2004 and amassed a 62-39 record over 10 years with just one losing season.
He led the Knights to back-to-back appearances in the District of Columbia State Athletic Association Championship game the past two years, winning the title in 2012.
He has earned the reputation of helping scores of players reach the college level, including some of the city’s top prospects in recent years. Among the stars to come through Friendship were Eddie Goldman (Florida State) in 2011, Yannick Ngkoue (Maryland) in 2012 and Jalen Tabor (Florida) in 2013.
FCA has sent 98 players to college via football scholarships in the past nine years, Abdul-Rahim told a crowd at a National Signing Day ceremony at the school earlier this month.
He said he was sad “to leave what’s been created,” but left open the option of returning after a year.
“Most importantly, one, educationally we’ve been able to help a lot of kids attain a college degree,” Abdul-Rahim said of Friendship. “The whole culture at Friendship changed. . . . I’m real happy about kids and their character.”
Friendship Collegiate Athletic Director Mike Hunter will become the school’s interim coach.
He said that Abdul-Rahim’s leave of absence was a decision between Abdul-Rahim and the Friendship administration, and Hunter said Abdul-Rahim “deserves the option to be able to come back and continuing to develop this program that he started 10 years ago.”
“In this profession, you kind of know that coaches are going to move around and look for other opportunities . . . every coach is going to run across that opportunity that you just cannot pass up. This is probably that one for him at this point,” Hunter said.