Coughlin head coach Ciro Cinti doesn't often bring up ninth graders to play for his varsity team.
He only exception is if there's a ninth-grader who could make significant contributions, possibly even start. That was the case with Anthony Khalife, who has blossomed ever since being called up.
"I don't bring them up unless they a going to play," Cinti said. "He showed the maturity. We're a Triple-A team, but we play Quad-A teams on our schedule. He has shown the maturity. When you show him something, you explain it once, and he does it. That's his own hard work.
Khalife has played guard, defensive end, then added tight end to his repoitoire last season. He finished with 11 catches last season, playing at 6-4, 235. Some schools that have come to see him are projecting him as a defensive tackle, thinking he could easily grow to 280 pounds by the time he starts college. On defense, a junior, he finished with over 100 tackles with five sacks.
"Academic-wise, he has done everything he has had to do," Cinti said. "Maryland has been here, Rutgers, UConn, obviously Pitt, Temple, Buffalo, Duke was in, Old Dominion, and UMass wants him to come up there."
Pitt and Maryland are two of the schools who have checked on him the most. At Maryland, he's being recruited by defensive line coach Greg Gattuso and tight ends coach John Dunn.
"Maryland, I liked their campus," Khalife said. "I like how their whole campus is spread out. Their football program is making a lot of facility upgrades. We went to a basketball game there."
Khalife went to a junior day at Pitt. His dad, Tony Khalife, is now on staff at Coughlin with the defensive linemen. He was formerly at GAR Memorial, where he coached Pitt freshman Shakir Soto, who enrolled early and is practicing this spring.
"It was a lot of fun, my first one, a new experience," Khalife said of Pitt. "I learned lot about the program. We went down the night before that Friday. Shakir Soto, I've known him for awhile, so he showed me around the campus, showed me around the town.
"On the Junior Day, I had a lot of fun. I talked to (defensive lined) coach (Inoke) Breckterfield. I learned a lot about him. I'm probably going to go back down for spring practices or the spring game. We'll see what happens there. I want to go to camp there this summer, too."
UConn is another school he's been to. Of the schools he's visited, Pitt--despite being in-state--is the furthest from him, about five hours.
"I like UConn a lot," Khalife said. "We went to UConn the night before, saw the coaches on Friday. We toured the facilities. Everyone is pretty nice up there."