by Jody Kessler
That blur you see streaking down the sidelines at a LaSalle football game? That’s senior running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who is leading the Explorers back to the state playoffs after winning it all last year. LaSalle will play Easton in the first round this Saturday.
Abdur-Rahman will attend Villanova next fall on a full scholarship. The scholarship is a reward for an outstanding high school football career for Abdur-Rahman. He has started since the third game of his sophomore season and has electrified ever since, playing both ways as cornerback and on defense.
But it is when the ball is in his hands that he really shines. He has blazing speed. As soon as a hole opens he is gone, racing towards the end zone for a touchdown. Abdur-Rahman, 5’10”, 180lbs., gained 1,009 yards as a sophomore, 1,198 as a junior, and has already gained 1,455 as a senior, and the team is not done. They are playing outstanding football, on a ten game winning streak, blowing out most of their opponents along the way. With Ab- dur-Rahman leading the way they set their sights on another state championship, which would take three more wins.
Abdur-Rahman got his start playing football when he was 10. From age 10 to 14 he played for the West Oak Lane Wildcats where his coach made him play lineman for his first year, before he was able to play running back.
When it came time for high school, Abdur-Rahman enrolled at LaSalle for academic reasons but quickly made the freshmen team. He practiced with the varsity team, but saw no playing time. Finally he got his turn sophomore year. After playing some but not starting the first two games, he had his breakout game against West Catholic. He started at corner and running back and had a big day, earning the Philadelphia Daily News’ defensive player of the week honors with ten tackles and an interception, besides the two touchdowns he scored on offense. To this day Jamal says it is his career highlight.
The recruiting process for college began early. Schools came knocking on his door after his sophomore year. Maryland wanted him bad, Abdur-Rahman said, he favored the school for a while. Purdue and Temple also showed strong interest. But finally it was Villanova that was the right fit for Abdur-Rahman and he made his decision on August 19 to stay local and play for the Wildcats where he will have a chance to compete for the running back spot there. Picking college before the football season started had the added benefit of preventing the decision from distracting him this season.
Outside of football Jamal is a normal kid, he likes to relax and watch movies with friends. At school his favorite subject is the one with the best teacher, right now being Mr. Derrick for English. Jamal just had a 3.0 GPA last semester, so his academics are in order. He wants to major in business at Villanova. His favorite NFL players are Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson.
Local: What do you love about football?
Abdur-Rahman: The competitive atmosphere. It’s just a feeling I get when I’m working hard with a group of people doing a physical activity. I don’t get any other feeling like that, when I win games.
Local: What was it like winning the championship last year?
Abdur-Rahman: It was a great feeling. It was a lot of hard work to put into that season, and to win it all meant everything.
Local: Overall how do you think your high school career has gone?
Abdur-Rahman: It’s been on an upside. I’ve been winning a lot and that’s what I care mostly about; it’s been a real good career so far and it hasn’t ended yet!
Local: What’s it like to play for LaSalle?
Abdur-Rahman: It’s great. It’s a winning program right now. We’re doing real well. We have a real good staff and good group of kids. It’s a good feeling coming out every week knowing you’re going to win.
Local:Why did you choose Villanova?
Abdur-Rahman: I chose it beca- use the atmosphere.I feel at home there, the coaches are good dudes. I feel like I know them, I know how they coach.I can see myself in that offense.
Local:Where are you in your preparation for playing Easton?
Abdur-Rahman: I’m pumped for that. I know they are a good team, they run the ball heavy — not a lot of flaws I can point out. I can’t wait to play, we have three more games left, hopefully.I can’t wait to get back to where we were at last year, so we can play for a title
Local: What are you going to have to do to beat them?
Abdur-Rahman: We have to have more intensity than they do, just execute basically. We’re not going to do a lot of trick plays, just play our game.
Local: What are some final tho- ughts on your career here at LaSalle and moving on towards Villanova?
Abdur-Rahman: It’s been a great one so far and I hope to continue, winning more championships.
LaSalle plays Easton at Northeast High School Saturday at 1 p.m. Attend and try to catch a glimpse of Abdur-Rahman.