Yes, I know the spelling is wrong…it’ll make sense in a second.
A recruit from the Class of 2020 made his first visit to East Lansing last weekend…yes, he’s a freshman in high school! He’s 5’9” and 145 pounds and hails from Huron High School in Ann Arbor, MI. But when you listen to him speak, you’d have a hard time figuring out he’s so young. It’s time to introduce Karamba Kaba (see, makes sense now, doesn’t it?).
“I’m very appreciative,” Kaba told Spartan Nation, of how lucky and fortunate he is to have this opportunity at such a young age. “I thank God that I’m getting a chance to communicate with coaches and stuff like that. My parents didn’t get the opportunity to go to college, so I just want to thank God that I have the opportunity to go to college.”
Before we get into Karamba’s visit to Michigan State this weekend, or the kind of player he is on and off the field, it’s important to elaborate on the effect his parents have had on him, because I truly believe that they’re the one’s who have shaped this young man into someone who is wise beyond his years.
“My mother – she came to the United States as an immigrant…she first stepped foot in New York. My father – he also came from West Africa, Guinea. My mother and my father met in New York,” he explained.
“When my mom first set foot in New York, she didn’t have anywhere to live,” Karamba continued. “When she came, I guess she met my father…but my mom and my father were best friends when they were little back in West Africa. I have the best family in the world you could ask for, so I just want to pay them back for everything they’ve done for me.”
Pretty cool, right? How many high school freshmen can articulate a story like that? But it says a lot about who Karamba Kaba is.
“They love football,” Kaba said of his parents. “My dad used to love soccer, and now when he sees me put on the pads, my dad loves football! He comes and watches me – he lives in New York right now, but when I have a game, he’ll fly down and watch me. I have the best dad in the world and the best mother in the world!”
It’s easy to want to root for a kid with such a deep appreciation of his family and where he came from. But it also influences who he is on the field.
“Being coachable and also being a leader to my players, because I feel being a leader to your players, you gain more respect and you can carry the team on your back,” Kaba admitted, in regards to what he feels he does best. “That’s how I am on the field – I’m a leader and I’m a very coachable player.”
But physicality-wise, Karamba said, “I love to hit. People will come at me, and I can always fall, but I will always rise up!”
However, along with his maturity comes the ability to perceive elements of his game that need to improve (keep in mind that he’s still just a freshman in high school and has three more years of football before he gets to the college level, so there’s plenty of time to learn and grow).
“What I think I can work on more is doing my routes correctly, because I do make mistakes – everybody makes mistakes – so I could work on doing my routes better, cutting in better,” Kaba explained. “But when I’m on the field, I’m a whole different person – when I step on the football field, it’s all about football…it’s not about anything else.”
Now, let’s get to his weekend visit to Michigan State.
“It was great! It was outstanding! I loved it,” Karamba said excitedly! “I loved the coaching staff. When I went into the building, the coaching staff had respect for their players – they really, really care about their players. That’s what I loved about the visit.”
That matched exactly what Karamba told Spartan Nation, prior to his visit, he’d be looking for out of schools when he visits them.
“I want to see how they run their program, I want to see how the facilities work, and see how the coaches do their jobs, because I’m very interested in how the coaches teach their players.”
Teaching is something that Karamba takes to very well, both on and off of the field.
“I’m a leader in the classroom,” he said. “Every time I walk into the building, I say ‘Good Morning’ to the teachers and show my respect to them. It’s very important about my class work – getting in my class work and then going on the field.”
Getting back to the weekend at MSU, Karamba had a chance to meet and talk to Head Coach Mark Dantonio, and their conversation left a big imprint on him.
“When he came to introduce himself to me and I introduced myself to him – the way he talks and coaches the players…he has that motivation that makes the players want to be on the field and play for him. He has that fire,” Kaba said.
You can tell that Karamba Kaba is no ordinary freshman in high school. The way he articulates his answers, the things he’s searching for, and the way he respects the people who have come before him makes him wise beyond his years.
And these are all wonderful qualities that colleges will love when they meet him. But from a Spartan standpoint, there’s one quality that will likely stand above all others…
“I love Michigan State! I can’t wait to go back…I really can’t,” Karamba said!