isn’t your typical five-star athlete.
Not that other elite prospects don’t work hard or continuously strive to get better or ignore their press clippings, but those are staples of the 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle’s persona.
Goldman (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, interior defensive line prospect in the Class of 2012 and he has more than 50 scholarship offers to prove it, but he won’t be the one to tell you about it.
“I think he’s a lot different from some of the other five-stars,” Friendship head coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said. “He’s a unique kid. Some kids really take to the limelight and the attention and really start believing the hype. I don’t feel like he’s one of those people or he does a good job of disguising.”
“He’s just keeping his head down and trying to work hard and get better,” Goldman’s father, Eddie Muhammad said.
Muhammad is a self-confessed football junkie and says he might be enjoying the hectic recruiting process more than his son. Goldman isn’t interested in his star or position rankings in the least.
“He doesn’t care about it because he feels at the end of the day, it’s on paper,” said Muhammad. “He feels that whatever university he goes to, he can’t take all of those rankings or what the so-called experts say, he can’t take it with him. He’s going to have to prove himself all over again when he gets to a university.”
Muhammad was struck by his son’s maturity when Goldman made the decision to attend Friendship. Muhammad hoped his son would attend Dunbar High School, his alma mater, but the reasons Goldman decided not to blew his father away.
“I was like, ‘Wow,’ and this is coming from a junior high school kid,” Muhammad said.
What were the reasons? Goldman would rather his father not share them, just like he’d rather not have him share a number of other positive stories, according to Muhammad. Goldman is humble off enough to hide his own humility.
That humility seems to be contagious too. Goldman either got it from his father and high school head coach or the high school junior’s outlook has rubbed off on them.
With all of the interest that 50 scholarship offers from schools like Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Stanford, Tennessee and Texas will generate, Muhammad believes Abdul-Rahim and Friendship defensive line coach Lawrence Joseph have been overlooked.
“With all of the attention and the magnitude of my son, the things that get lost are his coaches,” Muhammad said. “Coach Abdul-Rahim and his position coach, Coach Joseph, have been working with him night and day for the last three years.”
Abdul-Rahim took the opportunity to give credit back to Goldman and Joseph.
“He’s extremely receptive,” the head coach said of his star player. “That’s one of his best qualities. He’s real eager to learn new things and he doesn’t tank when we challenge him. We try to always create goals for him, even on a daily basis, so he can challenge himself in the weight room.
“He makes it a lot easier because he wants to work. He’s a 17-year-old kid so sometimes you’ve got to put your foot down. But all in all, his mentality is just as good as his physical attributes.”
Abdul-Rahim said Goldman and Joseph are a perfect match.
“He should get most of the credit for Eddie’s development,” the head coach said of his assistant. “He took him under his wing, they spend a lot of time together, not only at our school, but working out on the weekend.
“When you get a kid like Eddie and a coach who’s passionate about what he does and wants to see a kid improve on a daily basis and is on him on a daily basis, you’re going to get a lot of improvement.”
Still, Goldman’s maturity wasn’t ever-present as a youngster. He missed a few practices as a ninth-grader at Friendship and although he was on the varsity, he wasn’t a starter as a freshman.
“He always had work ethic, but I think his mentality was holding him back a little bit,” Abdul-Rahim said. “It was more just him gaining confidence and knowing he could be successful at that level. Once he felt some success toward the end of his ninth-grade year, he realized what it took for him to have even more success. He really bought into the weight room in the offseason.”
As Goldman stepped up his game as a 10th-grader, he was challenged to take it to an even higher level by Earl Johnson. The two played next to each other on the Friendship line in 2009 before Johnson took his talents to the University of New Mexico.
“Earl kind of took him under his wing and taught him a few things and pushed him to work,” Abdul-Rahim said.
By the time Johnson left, Goldman had fully embraced his quest to be the best he could be even as others already ranked him the best among his peers.
“He never sits back on the notoriety that he’s getting right now,” Abdul-Rahim said. “He knows there’s always somebody trying to knock him off.”
“That’s what it is and his humble attitude of, ‘OK, I’m not all that. This is high school,’” Muhammad said. “I’m pretty sure when he gets to college, if he’s blessed enough to get to college and play D-I ball, he will probably have the same attitude.”
There’s no doubt Goldman will be blessed enough to play Division I, the only question is where. Goldman hasn’t narrowed his lengthy list of offers down in any way yet, but he has began to formulate a list of criteria he wants in a school. He wants to keep that list private so the schools he visits don’t just cater to its contents.
Last month, he made a couple of Southern swings to see North Carolina, North Carolina State and Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Florida State with his father, his coach and other members of the Friendship football family. Muhammad said they want to get out west to see Notre Dame and some other schools, but it isn’t clear when that trip will take place, although it could be sometime in May.
Between numerous phone calls and “wild” Facebook messages, Muhammad admits the recruiting process is beginning to get stressful.
“I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a good kind of stress,” he said. “I’m just a football-head, so I enjoy it.”
Eventually, Goldman will have to find a way to narrow down his list and make a decision, but for now, he’s just concentrating on making himself and his team better.