Standing beside gargantuan tight end Colby Parkinson (6-foot-6), electric four-star athlete Salvon Ahmed from Kirkland (Wash.) Juanita looked even shorter than his 5-foot-11 stature.
Yet, both players held in their right hand, a golden The Opening Finals ticket.
Ahmed plays much bigger than his height and showed that and more on Sunday at The Opening Oakland Regional. Even though many schools are recruiting him as a running back, he earned his invite to Beaverton, Ore. on the defensive side, playing cornerback.
“I think it shows my versatility as a player. It shows how I can be an athlete and play both sides of the ball,” Ahmed said. “I don’t have a preference right now. I just want to be an athlete on the field at whatever college I want to go to.
“If it’s getting the ball in my hands and that’s going to help the team, then that’s what I’m going to do. Either side of the ball, I’m comfortable on, so that’s what I’m feeling right now.”
USC has talked to Ahmed about playing on both sides of the ball at different times in his recruitment. That has partly been caused by assistant coach Johnny Nansen’s switch from running backs coach to linebackers coach.
“When he was a running backs coach, he wanted me at running back. Now he’s on defense and he wants me at corner,” Ahmed said. “Coach [Tommie] Robinson wants me to play running back. Coach [Clay] Helton is just going with it and saying just be at the school.”
Most of Ahmed’s USC interactions have been with Nansen, who has been trying to sell the opportunities the Trojans offer.
“We just talk about the school a lot and what it has to offer and what he thinks I can do,” Ahmed said. “It’s a legendary school is basically what he tries to get across to me.”
Ahmed has been drawing attention from plenty of other schools during the May evaluation period as well. “A lot of schools have come by.” The list includes colleges that have already offered, including several Pac-12 programs, and a handful of schools that could offer soon like Michigan and Nebraska.
“It’s been good. There’s been a lot of text messages and calls.”
To take advantage of the trip down to the Bay Area for the Oakland Regional, Ahmed unofficially visited Parkinson’s future school, Stanford, and California. While at Stanford, he was shown around by head coach David Shaw and running backs coach Lance Taylor. He also spent time with another elusive running back, Christian McCaffrey.
Ahmed called McCaffrey “a real cool dude, down to earth” and said he was “brutally honest” in answering questions. McCaffrey’s willingness to answer questions truthfully rather than trying to sugarcoat things for a recruit made a strong impression on Ahmed.
For the rest of the spring and summer period, Ahmed said he doesn’t have any visit plans set. He previously said he would love to get down to USC again, but didn’t have any summer trips planned. Instead he is planning to just take his official visits in the fall with his primary summer goal being to winnow away some schools and narrow his list to a final five.
“I know some schools in my head that I know I’m going to put on there, but nothing is for sure right now. I’ve got to talk to my family and coaches and get that narrowed down.”
Could the Trojans make the final five for the No. 131 overall prospect in the Scout 300?
“I mean everybody’s got a fair chance looking at it right now. As of right now, my recruiting is open, so anybody could be on that list.”
Check out Salvon Ahmed's highlights from his junior season with Juanita:
USC recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez contributed to this report.