By Phil Anastasia
Kareem Ali said he trusted his feelings.
"There was something about Maryland," Ali said. "It felt like home."
Ali, a Timber Creek junior defensive back and four-star recruit by rivals.com, on Thursday announced that he would attend the University of Maryland on a football scholarship.
Ali, who had more than 20 offers, had narrowed his final four down to Maryland, Louisville, Pitt and West Virginia.
The 5-10, 180-pound Ali, a track star who projects as a cornerback in college, said he made his decision after visiting Louisville on Monday. He had visited Maryland on Saturday.
"I felt stable and safe at Maryland," Ali said. "The whole coaching staff, the environment."
Ali made his decision in Timber Creek's media center, with most of the Timber Creek football program in attendance. He pulled a Maryland hat out of a bag and put it on his head after announcing his college choice.
Ali said the proximity of the Maryland campus from his home also was a factor in his decision.
"I have three little brothers and they want to see their big brother play," Ali said of his younger brothers, Kahlil, 9, Karon, 7 and Keyon, 3.
Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson thought Maryland's location was a factor.
"It's a phenomenal fit," Hinson said. "It's far enough away but close enough that his family can watch him play. There's a lot of excitement around that program right now."
Ali said Maryland's move to the Big 10 was not a huge factor in his decision.
"It wasn't that big of a deal although Rutgers is going too and I get to play against the home-state school, so I like that," Ali said.
Ali plans to graduate from Timber Creek in December and enroll at Maryland in January. Hinson said Timber Creek's Board of Education has approved a proposal to allow Ali to take a summer course and graduate a semester ahead of his class.
"I want to fet started on getting my master's degree," Ali said. "I want to get in their weight room, get started on film study, make spring practice."
Before he graduates, Ali said he hopes to lead Timber Creek to its third South Jersey title in his four seasons.
"I want to get that third ring," Ali said. "I got one my firts two years. I want another one before I leave."
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