Maryland assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim pursued former four-star defensive end Javon Kinlaw last year when he was a senior at Goose Creek High (S.C.), the defensive backs coach quickly gaining the 6-foot-6, 318-pounder’s ear.
It didn’t work out due to transcript complications, but, almost a full year later, with Kinlaw spending a season at Jones County Community College (Ellisville, Miss.), Abdul-Rahim is back on the talented edge rusher.
“Man, it was great to hear from Coach Rahim again. I was so excited to hear from him again,” said Kinlaw, who landed the UMD offer Nov. 8 . “I’ve known him since I was a baby, for real. He was like a father to me, so to hear from him and to get that Maryland offer, man, it was huge.
“We were touching base, and he said he needed me and I could come in and play right away. And I told him that sounded great. Maryland is my favorite school right now, definitely.”
Indeed, the Abdul-Rahim-Kinlaw connection runs deep. The Terps’ assistant headed Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.) before moving to the college ranks, and Kinlaw actually played under him for a year.
“Coach Rahim is someone you can trust, you know? When I was living in D.C., and I was down, Coach Rahim was right there. My family didn’t have a whole lot, and Coach Rahim helped us out,” Kinlaw said. “So he’s my man, for real. He looks out for you and he’s a genuine guy. I know he’s going to steer me right.”
Beyond the opportunity to reconnect with Abdul-Rahim, Maryland also presents an opportunity to return to the D.C. area. Kinlaw was born in South Carolina, but he said he’s spent the majority of his life in and around the nation’s capital.
“Man, that’s my city, man,” Kinlaw said. “That’s where I grew up, and it doesn’t get any better. That’s home for me. I still have friends up there and everything.
“I can’t wait to get back up there. Me and Coach Rahim, we talked about me visiting January 20. That’s when I think I’m getting up [for my official].
“I don’t know a whole lot about [the Terps], and I haven’t watched them, but I know it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m going to be looking into them more now that my season is over.”
The Terps are Kinlaw’s stated favorite, but he did say he’s considering his other suitors. During the course of his season at Jones County he landed offers from Alabama, Louisville, Tennessee and South Carolina, the school he originally committed to out of high school.
Kinlaw said he’s set to see Alabama officially Jan. 27 and is in the process of scheduling a trip to South Carolina as well.
“I haven’t completed a full year of JUCO yet, so I can’t take my officials until January,” said Kinlaw, who mentioned he has close to a 3.0 GPA and is squared away academically. “But I’m a 2017 recruit, I’ll graduate in May, and I’ll have three years of eligibility remaining once I get to the school I choose.”
In seven games at Jones County (he missed one due to a concussion), Kinlaw said he recorded around 50 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He said he’s improved ten-fold since high school and is now ready to take his game to a four-year institution.
“I pretty much played the best I’ve ever played,” Kinlaw said. “I gained a lot of muscle, I took on blocks better, my lateral quickness got better, my speed got better, my stamina got better and my technique got better. I improved all the way around.”