DE Khalid Kareem has 'great experience' at Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The reality of a wide open recruitment didn’t complicate Khalid Kareem’s week.

After withdrawing his verbal commitment to Alabama on Wednesday, the four-star defensive end recruit went ahead with business as usual. He and his Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison teammates won 35-0 on Friday night. Then Kareem spent the weekend with his parents on an official visit to Notre Dame.

“It was kind of easy,” Kareem said. “I had a little bit more time to focus on playing this week against North Farmington, our city rivals. When we got down to Notre Dame, it was easy."

The Kareems returned to South Bend for the first time since March, but the Notre Dame coaching staff has kept in touch with the family for months. Setting up a visit for the USC game only made sense.

"It was great,” Kareem said. “I had a great experience. I built a better relationship with the coaches and the players."

Notre Dame defensive line coach Keith Gilmore has led Kareem’s recruitment. Gilmore previously recruited Kareem while at North Carolina.

"He's a great guy,” Kareem said. “He's from Detroit. I played with his grandson, so I have a connection there. I feel like he really knows what he's talking about."

Gilmore has been looking for at least one more defensive end to add to Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class. The Irish currently claim verbal commitments from three potential pass rushers: Julian Okwara, Jamir Jones and Adetokunbo Ogundeji. Kareem, at 6-foot-4 and 257 pounds, could be the most college-ready of the group if he committed to Notre Dame.

"It's a good defense to play in,” Kareem said after watching Notre Dame defeat USC on Saturday. “I would fit pretty well. I would play a five or six technique. It's kind of similar to what I'm playing now. It would be a pretty easy transition."

247Sports slates Kareem as the No. 8 strongside defensive end in the 2016 class. Rivals ranks him 19th at the position.

Aside from Xs and Os, Kareem was really impressed by the atmosphere inside Notre Dame Stadium.

"It was live,” Kareem said. “You felt like you were on stage as soon as you walked out the tunnel."

His parents soaked up the moment too. Kareem’s father took pictures with baseball stars Torii Hunter and Matt Kemp and singer Jon Bon Jovi before the game. His mother enjoyed the environment as well.

"That was awesome,” said his mother, Phillicia Kareem. “The whole stadium was really hyped up. Everyone was pretty into it."

But more importantly, Phillicia Kareem said, was the information she learned about Notre Dame’s academics. She learned much more about the academic support her son would have in South Bend.

“I did appreciate that I was able to get those questions answered as far as classes, the process and how they would take care of him on the academic side as opposed to just football,” Phillicia Kareem said. “My main focus was on the studies side of it."

The proximity of Notre Dame to home for the Kareems is an added bonus. A trip to South Bend could be more convenient than a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"It's only about three hours away,” Phillicia Kareem said. “I can definitely get down there to him quicker than at a lot of other schools. I would be able to be down there to see him and come to all the games."

Khalid Kareem said he’s not sure what will come next in his recruitment. He doesn’t have any other visits planned, but more schools have started to contact him since he parted ways with the Crimson Tide. Michigan and Michigan State may not be options for him as both teams have started to fill up at defensive end.

With a new outlook on his recruitment, Kareem will have to sort through his options in the coming months. His parents will be right by his side.

"We're doing this for him. It's not about what anyone else wants him to do,” Phillicia Kareem said. “It's not about me or his dad — what we want him to do. Of course we'll play a major role as far as what we want, but it's all about him. He's going to be the one going to school and going out on the football field.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison standout defensive end Khalid Kareem became Notre Dame's 17th commitment in the 2016 recruiting class on Friday. Photo courtesy of Rivals.com.