Now that the football season has concluded we turn our attention to recruiting. Throughout the past year, the top recruiting stories have involved Matt Clapp signing with Oklahoma, Nick Covey signing with Nebraska, Cody Jones signing with Cal, speculation as to where Ekom Udofia and Chris McGaha will sign and who will win the recruiting war between the UofA and ASU. As we know football is the ultimate team game and of the young men that play football, here or in any state, very few are blue chip recruits. In a attempt to serve the players of Arizona, 24-7Football will try to feature great football players who due to their size, forty time sharing time with other players may not be receiving as much attention as they deserve.
The first player in our series is Paradise Valley's Aazaad Muhammad. The 5'8 175 pound Muhammad shared backfield duties this year in Coach Donnie Yantis' balanced attack, with one of Arizona's top recruits Matt Clapp. With limited touches, you could sum up Muhammad's season and career as quality not quantity. Averaging below fifteen carries a game this season Muhammad amassed just under 1,300 yards rushing at nearly eight yards a clip. His yards per carry are comparable to some of the top backs in 5A, including Markel Devorce, Nick Bell and Channing Trotter. As a receiver Muhammad also made the most of his touches. Muhammad caught nine balls, three of which went for touchdowns, for an average of twenty-two yards a catch.
This season was a continuation of a three year career as a varsity starter in which Muhammad rushed for 3,167 yards, averaged over twenty-three yards a return and managed twenty-seven career TDs including three on defense. Trojan coach Donnie Yantis says Aazaad is one of the toughest kids he has ever coached and points out that Aazaad has never been injured is his career as a two way player, only missed practice once due to a death in the family and out of over 500 career touches has only lost three fumbles. Yantis further points out that the 175 pound Muhammad uses his toughness and 4.5 speed to play a hybrid linebacker/defensive back position in the Trojan D.
What makes Muhammad even more exceptional is that in a world in which team sports has increasingly become at all levels, more about the individual and less about the team Muhammad accepted and understood that he would probably be in Matt Clapp's shadow. Instead of complaining, he adjusted and put together a great body of work throughout his three years. Coach Yantis says of Muhammad, "He never talks smack, never misses practice and whatever asked he did it." This is the type of attitude that would benefit numerous college programs if they recruit the multi- talented Muhammad. Currently Aazaad's primary options regarding playing football in college are the local Phoenix area JUCOs.