Gerard Martinez

Salvon Ahmed makes tough decisions look easy at The Opening

Four-star athlete Salvon Ahmed talks about narrowing his list of schools to a final five, including what he likes about USC, and playing defense at The Opening Finals.

As Juanita (Wash.) Kirkland’s Salvon Ahmed headed to The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore. last week, he had some decisions to make. 

First, the four-star athlete needed to decide on his position for the event. Teams have been recruiting Ahmed on both sides of the ball. He has torn up the Washington prep scene at running back where he totaled more than 2,000 yards of offense last season, including a six-touchdown, 230-rushing yards playoff performance. But the No. 187 overall prospect in the 2017 Scout 300 felt he could better display his skill set by playing defensive back in the 7-on-7 setting.

“Normally, I like to play offense,” Ahmed said. “I’ve been playing 7-on-7 doing that and playing defensive back, so I’ve come to love that position. I’m not leaning toward a position — whatever can get me on the field the fastest then that’s what’s good for me.”

Ahmed also made a big determination last week when he chose to narrow his list of potential schools to a final five, revealing via Twitter the colleges he is still considering and will be taking official visits to:

He is looking at four Pac-12 schools — USC, Stanford, Oregon and Washington — and a wild card in Notre Dame, who he yet to visit. 

“It’s going to be different. I want to see how I feel on campus,” Ahmed said of visiting the Golden Domers. “Am I going to be happy there and comfortable? Personally, I feel that way because I’ve got a great relationship with the coaches. I love the program, but I just want to get that feeling.”

He doesn’t have those questions about his Pac-12 finalists because he has visited each school unofficially, even making the trip down to Los Angeles to see USC multiple times.

“I’ve been on campus, so I know how I feel on campus. I kind of just want to get there for the game atmosphere. I know how I feel about the school.

“I just have a great relationship with [the Trojans], the coaching staff, Coach [Johnny] Nansen, Coach [Clay] Helton. I love the tradition there and I could see myself there outside of football, if I didn’t have it anymore, I could see myself just loving the school.”

The 6-foot, 186 pounder feels confident in his list of schools, calling it his “final five” rather than just a “top five.” He felt the same about his decision to play cornerback after he had a solid, if not stellar, performance. 

Steve Hare /
Ahmed had some pass breakups and nabbed an interception that allowed him to show off his jets and elusiveness as he returned it for a touchdown. Once he gets in the open field, no one is chasing him down from behind — he ran a 4.32 40-meter dash during The Opening testing portion — and that’s exactly what happened after the pickoff.

Overall, he felt he performed well and was able to pick up some important information.

“It’s definitely an eye-opening experience,” Ahmed said. “These guys will definitely bring the flaws out of you and show what you need to work on. That’s just what I’ve taken out of it — things I need to work on to continue to level up against the top guys in the country. 

“I’m enjoying the whole experience. I’m happy I get to go against the top guys in the country.”

Rather than any wholesale changes, the things his opponents showed Ahmed he needed to work on were technical elements of the craft. He felt he needed to be more patient at the line of scrimmage in press scenarios and work on honing his striking location to get a better jam to disrupt routes and assure that he could corral receivers to the defensive strength.

Ahmed will continue to learn tidbits on both sides of the ball where he is likely to excel for a strong senior season at Kirkland, but which side of the ball he ends up on in college will just depend on the school that is able to secure his National Letter of Intent.

That’s a topic that is likely to be discussed extensively during his five official visits. While he knows the schools, Ahmed hasn’t locked down the dates for those trips. But he has a tentative timeline for his commitment.

“I’m going to be [visiting] during the season, sometime in the fall. I’m hoping to take my officials in September and make my decision in September.

“You know it could [linger longer]. That’s not my plan, but it definitely could happen. I could come to a spot where I’m not ready and that’s where I’ll go from there.”

As Ahmed showed this week, when that decision comes, he’ll be ready to nail it as well.

USC recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez contributed to this story.

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