Better Know a Buckeye: Kareem Felder

By Vico on April 8, 2016 at 10:10 am
Kareem Felder poses next to Ohio State's national championship trophy

Our "Better Know a Buckeye" series continues with its ninth installment. We profile Kareem Felder, a cornerback prospect from Baltimore.

Kareem Felder

  • Size: 5-11/170
  • Position: CB
  • (Hometown) School: Baltimore, MD (Franklin)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★
  • National Ranking: 808
  • Position Ranking: 75 (CB)
  • State Ranking: 21 (MD)

Felder is one of many prospects Urban Meyer's staff has flipped from major programs in college football. Felder committed to Virginia Tech during its junior day festivities before he received a strong push from both Clemson and Ohio State. He decommitted from Virginia Tech while he considered both the Tigers and the Buckeye. He pledged to Ohio State on May 3 of last year.

I retell this recruitment below and follow it with a scouting report of the first cornerback prospect Ohio State recruited into what would be its full 2016 recruiting class. I provide a projection of a possible redshirt in 2016 before concluding with highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of this feature.


Ohio State fans had no idea who Kareem Felder was for the bulk of his recruitment. The coaching staff had only offered Felder almost two weeks after he had committed to Virginia Tech in February 2015.

The Maryland prospect looked like he was bound for that Atlantic Coast corridor of programs that include the current ACC and former Big East. Cincinnati and Iowa had already offered the Baltimore prospect before Rutgers joined the fray in late September 2014. Boston College followed a few weeks later. West Virginia offered a month after that.

The offers from Boston College, Rutgers, and West Virginia drew more interest from Felder even though Iowa is a good program with a solid footprint in Baltimore. Felder had visited Rutgers twice already during his junior season. He even remarked that "every football player in Baltimore loves West Virginia" after the Mountaineers offered.

Virginia Tech was the latest former Big East/current ACC program to offer Felder when Beamer's staff informed him in January 2015 of its interest. Felder may have thought his recruitment would be effectively confined to programs like this. If so, Virginia Tech would be the best program to offer him.

Felder committed to Virginia Tech on February 7, 2015 with that in mind. He had long admired Virginia Tech for its ability to coach defensive backs to their fullest potential and place them in the NFL. A lot of those defensive backs come from the DMV area as well. The Hokies seemed like a natural fit when Felder committed to the program during its junior day festivities.

His recruitment did not end there. Ohio State expressed an interest in wooing him from Virginia Tech when it extended a scholarship offer on February 20. Felder returned that interest, noting the then-defending national champion Buckeyes were the best program in the country. 

He remained a Virginia Tech pledge for the time being, but even saying the Buckeyes were his No. 2 choice is an implicit signal that he was thinking about reopening his recruitment.

Ohio State actually may not have been the program to encourage him to formally re-open his recruitment. Clemson offered Felder a month later and that may have been the tipping point. Felder planned unofficial visits thereafter.

He visited Ohio State on April 9 and followed it with a visit to Clemson two days later. The nature of the visits were quite different. He attended meetings with coaches and players with the idea that he was getting a glimpse of what it would be like as a member of the team. His visit to Clemson coincided with the Tigers' spring game. He watched the festivities and got a campus tour.

Clemson may have induced him to re-open his recruitment but Ohio State made the stronger impression. When asked which visit he enjoyed more, Felder immediately and unequivocally stated that it was Ohio State. The next thing Felder wanted to do was get his mom to visit Ohio State so she could see the campus and the program.

If you've read these features before, you would know that's a reliable signal of interest.

Felder decommitted from the Hokies two weeks after his Ohio State and Clemson trips. Kerry Coombs made an in-house visit five days later.

Felder knew where he wanted to be just four days after that.


Kareem Felder committed to Ohio State on May 3, 2015 as the ninth member of what would be its 2016 recruiting class and the first defensive back to join the fold.

Felder chose Ohio State over Clemson and Virginia Tech. There was some intrigue that Maryland could make a late push when his former position coach at St. Frances Academy joined Maryland as director of player personnel. However, Felder never wavered from his pledge to the Buckeyes.


Felder's coaches and close confidantes express a surprise at his meager rankings but a gratitude that a program like Ohio State did not care about his evaluation by recruiting services. 247sports' has him as the second lowest-ranked prospect in all Ohio State's 2016 recruiting class.

However, Felder's high school coaches and future coaches are both optimistic those rankings belie what Felder can do at a program like Ohio State.

Felder measures at just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds but has a much longer frame than someone else with those measurements. It will allow him to adapt well to a strength and conditioning program like that run by Mickey Marotti.

He does well to stick to receivers in multiple aspects. For one, he is smooth in his transition from backpedal to an angled run. There is no hesitation, lost steps or imbalance in that transition to a run. His quick-twitch athleticism is among the best in the country, which allows him to be explosive at the snap. Those who followed him closely in high school can attest to his athleticism and his footwork in particular.

I think he does better than most of his peers at locating the ball in the air. Defensive backs tend to rely on face-guarding in high school, which can be perilous in the collegiate level.

All told, Felder is better than his three stars suggest. There is a reason Alabama offered him ten days after he committed to Ohio State as well.


Felder plays bigger than he is. He is not a meek tackler either. However, he is a bit small right now. He'll need to make the most of his time in the weight room.

He also doesn't jam effectively. Felder is not particularly strong right now and may be reticent to jam a receiver because of it. This means Felder is reacting to whatever the receiver is doing rather than controlling the receiver on his route. Felder should be better positioned to jam receivers in man-press situations when he puts on a few pounds.


Felder could be good enough to crack the two-deep at Ohio State as a true freshman, provided he excels immediately in the weight room. However, Ohio State's two-deep at corner is already loaded. Barring injuries, I don't see Felder playing on defense as a true freshman.

Special teams will be Felder's immediate route to the field as a true freshman. However, that qualifier means I'll err on the side of projecting a redshirt for Felder in 2016.



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