Kareem Preparing to Narrow List (Part 1)

Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison DE Khalid Kareem is arguably the most heavily pursued prospect in the state of Michigan, with an offer tally that could top 40 any day now. However despite the rising interest nationally, his appreciation for the local programs is still strong.

Sam Webb:  With 38 offers and counting, things are obviously going very well for Khalid. Have you guys talked about narrowing it down yet?

Ken Kareem:  “Yeah we’ve talked about it pretty much every day.  We talk about narrowing it down.  We’re just trying to find the right time.  We’ve just been paying attention to some of the things that are going on.  Some of the schools that are really, really, really showing a ton of interest.  They are showing that they really want him and need him there.  We’ve been doing a ton of homework.  Some people might think that we’re chasing offers or chasing schools, but what we’ve been trying to do is find that perfect fit for him.  There is not exact science to it.  We might not find that perfect fit that we think we have, but that’s what we’ve been trying to do, find that perfect fit for him.  A school that wants him and he wants that school and everything works out.  We don’t have a real timeline, but at the same time, it could come tomorrow.  We do talk about it.  There are some schools that haven’t offered him that probably are going to this next week and we’ve been pretty much liking a lot of the things that we’ve been seeing out of those schools.” 

Sam Webb:  Pretend you’re getting ready to sit down and make a decision, what are going to be the biggest factors that you guys look at?

Ken Kareem:  “The biggest factor is the degree.  We’ve decided that unless it is a situation where he is playing good enough ball that he has some guarantee of NFL money… something to that nature… we’ve pretty much decided that we want to leave school with a degree.  So reputation of that degree means a lot to us.  What I mean by reputation is a school where that degree is reputable.  I know at every school you are going to get a good education, but we’ve been really looking at a reputable degree.  The other thing that we’ve been looking outside education is a need.  A school that is thin at that spot and they’ve got some seniors and guys that they are losing, we’re looking at a place he can possibly come in and make an early impact.  Some place where he can come and potentially play early.  We don’t want to redshirt.  We don’t want to be on a long list of guys waiting to graduate.  We know he’s got to go there and compete but that’s one of the factors.  We want a place he can potentially come in and make an impact.”

Sam Webb:  Khalid is very versatile. He can play inside/outside, play with his hand down, play standing up. What position does he want to play?

Ken Kareem:  “I think in a perfect world he would like to be a true five tech, come in play from the edge, ‘edge rusher’.  I know because he’s versatile and he’s the type of kid that’ll play where they need him.  Once he gets to that team and hey, Khalid, we need you to stand up, he’ll stand up.  (If he’s needed) at outside linebacker/defensive end position, he’ll go there.  He’s very versatile.  He’s long.  Even though he’s my son, I still look at him as a unique player.  When I was coaching high school, he bailed me out plenty of days.  He’s one of those kids that you can count on, you can move him around.  At one point we actually had him playing the MIKE backer.  I don’t ever see him playing that in college but who knows.  He’s very versatile and in an ideal world, I know him, he would like to be an edge rusher, but that also depends on what his body does.  Right now, he is 6-4 and 257.  He’s bigger than some of the guys that went to the league this year.  He’s just about the same size as Dante Fowler right now.  It just depends on what his body does.”

Sam Webb:  Let’s talk about in-state schools and the one he was committed to for a while in Michigan State.  How does Michigan State picture him fitting in and where do things stand with the Spartans right now?

Ken Kareem:  “Obviously everyone knows we committed to Michigan State at one point.  It was one of those things where he really liked the atmosphere, he liked what he saw at the time and he kind of got…he is a kid in a candy store and man I want to play here and he decided I want to play here and he did it.  On the way home from the school, he felt real funny about it and backed out.  He wants to see what else is out there.  Michigan State is still in the running.  I know they’ve got a couple of guys.  He has got a relationship with a lot of these players and he’s hearing that there are a couple of guys that are committing there soon.  We don’t even know where we stand with them.  We know that they like him and they want him, but I don’t know how the numbers are going to stack up if some of those guys commit.  It’s okay.  The in-state schools, both of them, if he had to pick a top ten they both would definitely be in that.”

Sam Webb:  I saw you guys up at Michigan a couple of times.  What is the vibe like at Michigan?

Ken Kareem:  “We like some of the energy that we’ve seen up there.  Durkin was actually just at Harrison the other day.  He is one of the coaches that came up.  We liked it up there.  I talked to Wheatley and Singletary.  Singletary I guess is no longer there, but I did talk to him.  One of the things that I brought up to them is no matter what school we’ve been too, we’ve had tours of the school, seen dorms, (and) talked to academic advisors.  Michigan is one of the schools that we haven’t. We haven’t done a tour.  We’ve probably been up there a handful of time with Hoke’s staff.  We’ve probably been up there three or four times with Harbaugh’s staff.  That was a concern for us.  We definitely wanted to do some kind of tour.  Let’s see something outside of football.  Where is he going to be?  Where are they going to eat?  How close are the classes?  How close is the football field from the dorm?  All that kind of stuff, all of that stuff we don’t know.  That’s not a huge factor, but that’s just something we want to know and something we want to see and that hasn’t been done.  We’ve done that at pretty much every school we’ve been to including Michigan State.  I brought that up to Wheatley and I brought it up to Singletary that we wanted to tour the school and talk academics because that’s huge.  He’s a high academic kid.  He’s coming out in January, so he’s a mid year and that’s important.  We want to see some of that stuff just to either like it or love it or whatever, but we haven’t seen it.  I’m not saying that is a huge deal, but that is a conversation that I had.”

Sam Webb:  Let’s talk about those two guys. What is the connection been like with Wheatley so far?

Ken Kareem:  “I think we’ve got a pretty good relationship, as far as a father of a recruit.  I think him and my son have got a good relationship.  He went up to Harrison a couple of weeks ago, one of the first or second days of recruitment of the evaluation period.  They don’t talk much when they come up, but they kind of bumped into each other.  We’ve talked to him on the phone a couple of times.  The relationship with Wheatley is a good relationship.  It is just like any other college.  We talk to a ton of colleges every day, the coaches almost every day.  We’re building relationships and feel guys out and that’s why we’ve had a couple of college tours over the last couple of months where we actually went out and looked and seen and felt and touched, the dorms, the classrooms.  We went to the business classes and buildings.  We’ve done a tour of a lot of different schools and got to know whole staffs, head coaches and support teams and all that, just try to feel it out and this is where I want to be for the next four or five years.”

Sam Webb: Did you already know that Singletary was no longer working there and what did he say to you?

Ken Kareem:  “What happened is I called him before I called Wheatley.  What I did was, I talked to Curtis Blackwell, and after I talked to him I said, ‘let’s make sure I give the same kind of love to Michigan.’  So I called Singletary and he didn’t answer. Then I called Wheatley.  When I talked to Wheatley I just happened to mention to him, ‘I just called Singletary and how is he doing?’ Then he mentioned that Singletary had moved and is no longer in that position, and he is going to move on and do bigger and better things.  That’s pretty much the way he left it.  Out of curiosity I called Singletary back.  I said, ‘hey where are you at? You’re my go to guy if I want to come up or see something. ‘ I did know that he wasn’t there but that is because I talked to Wheatley briefly.”

Sam Webb:  What did he have to say? 

Ken Kareem:  “Obviously that’s his school… that’s his love, he’s an alumni.  He spoke very, very highly of Michigan and he actually said that even though he is no longer there, he still wants to push Khalid to go there.  He really just tried to show the school.  He spoke highly of the school, the education, the need for Khalid’s position.  He felt like they were thin at that position.  They’ve got a couple of guys coming in the 2015 class.  I think a kid out of Florida and another kid, I forget where he’s from.  They do have a couple of ends coming, but he felt like they were thin and the opportunity was there.  He spoke about the degree and the academic side of it.  We talked in depth.  I probably stayed on the phone with Singletary for about 20 minutes.”

Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for part two for word on D.J. Durkin's recent trip to Farmington Hills Harrison, his subsequent coversation with Mr. Kareem, and more.

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