As a 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback committed to Ohio State and with offers from 16 other schools it's hard to say you're "underrated," but that's a pretty accurate term when it comes to Kareem Felder.
The country's 73rd-ranked cornerback, who verballed to the Buckeyes in May after previously committing to Virginia Tech, was offered by the national champions a month after their coronation. It signaled that while others may have been sleeping on the Reisterstown, Md., standout, Urban Meyer's staff was not and that stood out to the Felder family, according to his father, Kareem Felder Sr.
"Ohio State wasn't worried about the rankings," Felder Sr. said. "We were somewhat surprised that they were recruiting him after he had already committed to VT, though. (Ohio State getting involved) was a blessing and an opportunity that he couldn't pass up on. Kareem was very thankful, humble and grateful for the opportunity. He realizes dreams do come true."
The Buckeyes identified Felder early, thanks in part to former St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) defensive backs coach Cory Robinson, now the director of player personnel for the Maryland Terrapins. Robinson was buzzing about Felder when he committed to Ohio State.
"Kareem is a 'dawg,' he's the kind of player that opposing coaches wish they had on their roster," Robinson told 11W. "He has the ability to impact the game from anywhere on the field. He plays with reckless abandon, yet is coachable and trust-worthy. His technique in the line of fire – and I've been blessed to coach over 25 Division 1 defensive backs so far – stands among the best I've ever coached; and he still has so much left still to develop. There is a reason why Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs believe he is one of the country's best for 2016."
According to the elder Felder the lack of national attention was a bit surprising, especially as the local folks were so aware of what he could do.
"His ranking was low for his position nationally but we knew he was underrated because there was a buzz about him locally," Felder said. "I believe that to be because he didn't attend a lot of training camps and wasn't seen in action by the sites that do rankings."
So what was it that the Buckeyes saw in Felder? A composed and thoughtful young man, on and off the field.
"(I think) it's just the fact that he stays in the pockets of players while defending and he plays big," Felder Sr. said. "He is quiet in person and more of a listener and a thinker. But on the field? He has a raw, hunter mentality."
Now committed to the Buckeyes and still as quiet as ever off the field, Felder is focusing simply on the future, his father says. He's working on being a trailblazer in his own family.
"(Going to Ohio State) is definitely an opportunity of a lifetime," Felder Sr. said. "Especially where we come from. He actually will be the first male Felder to go off to college. He is the oldest child. He knows the legacy lives on through him. He's committed and ready. He's feels it's the perfect fit for him as well. The journey shall be fun."
What about Maryland and Cory Robinson? Is there any pull to stay home and blaze that trail with his mentor and family closer than six hours away?
"No," Felder Sr. said when asked if Maryland or others are still a possibility. "He is done being recruited. He is just focusing on schooling and taking care of business here so he can go off to take care of business there. He's stress free. He is in contact with various coaches on a weekly basis."
That's Kareem Felder. No need to talk about it, he's just going out there and doing it, letting the game evolve and his future develop in front of him. The plan is in place, and now it's just about being a lockdown corner in his own life.
"As long as he remains hungry and humble, it will carry onto the field," Felder Sr. concluded. "I'm just proud of – and for – him."