Yes, it’s true. Rah Muhammad was the big man on campus at his high school.
“I hate to admit it, but I kind of was,” said Muhammad, a sophomore linebacker on The Citadel’s football team. “I guess I was a well-known guy.”
So well known that Kevin Higgins’ recruiting visit to Gadsden (Ala.) City High School left a lasting impression on the Bulldogs’ coach.
“I’d never been to a place where every one of his teachers came up and said, ‘This is one of the best kids we’ve ever had,’” Higgins said. “Younger kids were coming up to him in the hallway to say hi. That really made an impact on me.”
Rah (pronounced “Rock) was voted “most athletic” and “most likely to succeed” in the Titans’ yearbook and has lived up to that billing at The Citadel. He’s one of three second-year players who make up the starting unit at linebacker, along with Carson Smith and Carl Robinson.
In last week’s 23-21 upset of then No. 3-ranked Georgia Southern, Muhammad led the Bulldogs with 16 tackles, with a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Robinson, from Irvington, Ala., was next with 12 tackles, and Smith, from Mauldin High School, had four stops.
Two years ago, Citadel coaches decided the Bulldogs needed to get bigger at linebacker. Robinson, at 6-1 and 240 pounds, and Smith (6-2, 225) certainly qualify. At 5-11 and 205 pounds, Muhammad is a little smaller but no less effective.
“We’re really excited about those three guys,” Higgins said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a combination of three guys who have so much going for them, in the Corps of Cadets, academically and at linebacker. They have so much potential.”
Muhammad’s potential became apparent to Citadel coaches at a Bulldogs summer camp between his junior and senior years at Gadsden City. Muhammad drove the 12 hours from his home to Charleston to participate in the camp.
“That told us a lot right there,” Higgins said. “And at the camp, he stood out with is work ethic and personality. We don’t typically offer guys that early, but we went ahead and offered him a scholarship.”
Muhammad held fast to his commitment to The Citadel despite late interest from Southern Conference rival Samford and FBS school Troy, both in his home state.
Muhammad, whose full name is Abdulrahman Shaheed Muhammad, credits his mom, Carolyn, and a grandmother who died in 2003 as major influences in his life. He was born into the Muslim faith and attends a mosque in Charleston. He said there is a small group of Muslims on campus.
“A lot of people think of Muslims and terrorists automatically come to their minds,” he said. “But I find that people accept me. I try not to push my views on anyone, and people accept Christianity and Judaism or whatever religion you happen to be.”
Citadel fans should get used to the names Muhammad, Robinson and Smith. They will likely be the Bulldogs’ starting linebackers for this season and the two after that. All three got plenty of snaps last year as freshmen.
“We love, we fight, we hang out,” Muhammad said of the trio. “I love those two guys. Whenever we have problems — academic problems, football problems — we can text each other and talk about it.”