Timber Creek (NJ) cornerback Kareem Ali had family connections to several of the schools involved in his recruitment.
Ali’s parents both attended Temple and his uncle attended Louisville, so there was some pressure to choose one of those schools. However, the Sicklerville native wants to build his own legacy.
“I honestly didn’t feel it at Louisville, I felt it a little bit at Pitt,” Ali said after his announcement. “I felt it at Maryland. It felt like I was at Timber Creek honestly. It felt like home. This is the place. This is where I want to be.”
Maryland seemed to be the only constant for Ali during his recruitment. Penn State was involved from the beginning, but when new coach James Franklin was hired, the Nittany Lions backed off their pursuit of the New Jersey product.
“He gave it a really good look right off the bat,” Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said. “He always had that interest in Maryland as late as last summer when they offered him. We thought that Maryland could be a good fit and then his family had an opportunity to go down there. The proximity really helped out a lot and he really hit it off with coach (Randy) Edsall and coach (Brian) Stewart.”
Despite several visits to campus and Maryland recruiting him from the get-go, Ali wasn’t 100 percent sure where he was going to end up until last Saturday’s camp.
Ali also visited Louisville and Pittsburgh in the final week leading up to his announcement, so he could see once and for all where the Terps stacked up.
“It really didn’t hit me till this past Saturday when I did the camp,” Ali told TSMD. “I had coach Edsall and coach Stewart working with me at defensive back and it felt safe and stable. I felt like I was in good hands there.”
Family is definitely something that is important to Ali.
He has three young brothers, so staying close to home was a major selling point.
“I love how it feels like home,” Ali added. “Not even just me, but my parents and my head coach. My head coach came to me and said this feels like home to me and feels like our program (Timber Creek). I totally agree. It’s not too far. My little brothers can see me play. Maryland was the place.”
Ali will also have the chance to play right away. The Timber Creek star has one more year of high school football to play, but will be graduating early. He will enroll at Maryland in January, so he can participate in spring practices.
In terms of his play on the field, Maryland is getting one of the top high school players in New Jersey and a dedicated athlete.
“I think he’s one of the more underrated guys in the country,” Hinson added. “He was kind of nicked up a little bit this year, so he wasn’t 100 percent. Even in the games that he was able to play in, he was so explosive. They’re getting a player with a really high football IQ, has track speed, and is aggressive due to playing some strong safety. And he can return kicks. He’s the complete package.”