Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Happy New Year | Notre Dame DE Khalid Kareem Staying For Senior Year

December 31, 2018

Happy New Year, Brian Kelly, Mike Elston and Clark Lea. 

Junior defensive end Khalid Kareem has decided to stay for his senior year and that’s significant news for Notre Dame. 

“He really wasn’t necessarily ever leaving,” stated Kareem’s father, Ken Kareem. “There were feelers and conversations, but he always wanted to come back. Khalid wanted to get his degree.”

The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder recorded 43 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and five pass deflections in his first year as a starter for the Irish in 2018 despite battling a bad ankle for most of the year.

With the big year, there were people interested to see if he was leaving and that’s something the Kareem family investigated to before coming to a final decision.

“There were people curious to see if he would come out and where he’d fall in the draft,” explained Kareem. “It came out in me as a father, competitor and as a coach, but he knew he wanted to come back.” 

Notre Dame fell 30-3 on Saturday in the Cotton to Clemson and it might have served as some motivation for Kareem to come back to Notre Dame. Clemson had its entire defensive line pass on the NFL last spring for a chance at a national championship. 

“Clemson is an elite team and to be the best, you have to beat the best,” stated Kareem. “He’s like anyone else and wanted to see how he matched up with those boys. Despite the score, I felt the defensive line matched up well against Clemson’s offensive line.” 

Football aside, the Michigan native wanted to return to school to finish his degree. Kareem was an early enrollee and is on track to graduate in 2019.

“He’s close to his degree and he wants to play as a graduate,” said Kareem. “That’s important to all of us. He’s figuring it all out, but I believe he’ll be able to walk in May, but he’ll definitely finish in 2019.

“One of the reasons he went to Notre Dame was to get a Notre Dame degree. He maintained almost a 3.7 GPA during an undefeated season.” 

Notre Dame could field one of the nation’s best pass rushes next fall and Kareem will lead the charge. The offseason will be crucial for the Irish and Kareem will likely look to assume a significant leadership role.

“Returning for his senior year will let him gain more experience and get smarter on the field,” said Kareem. “It will allow him to get stronger and he’s developing more leadership. He’s becoming more vocal and that’s something I didn’t even know because he’s more of a kid who leads by example.

“He’ll get stronger, faster and will work on his technique. He’ll continue to do what he’s been doing. Nothing different.” 

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