Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Khalid Kareem Spent The Summer Crafting Behind Enemy Lines

July 22, 2019

Khalid Kareem had to make a decision in the spring when it came to how he was going to spend his summer. 

The 6-foot-4, 262-pound defensive end had an opportunity to head to Brazil to study abroad for a few weeks with his teammates or take advantage of an internship at OTR Capital in Atlanta. 

The decision became a little easier once he found out he could get some work in with a few defensive line coaches while in Atlanta. Kareem’s father, Ken, normally works with him during the offseason, but a hip issue has prevented the elder Kareem from getting on the field. 

The Notre Dame standout worked with Chip Smith (Chip Smith Performance) and Marcus Howard (MWHSports) while in Atlanta, which meant he was getting two and sometimes three workouts a day in addition to his internship. 

“We worked on a lot of hand movements,” Howard told Irish Sports Daily. “As a pass rusher, you always want to work on hand movements and get offs. We did a lot of get off work, club, chop and rip work. We worked on his explosion with his first step, but he already had that. It never hurts to do it even more and get more reps. 

“He got plenty of reps. He got used to some of that Georgia heat too.” 

Howard comes from a deep background in football. He first starred at Hanahan High School (S.C.), the same program as former Notre Dame receiver Chris Brown, before heading to Georgia. While in Athens, Howard earned First-Team All-SEC honors as a senior as he recorded 10.5 sacks, including 3.5 sacks in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Howard then went on to play with the Colts, Titans and the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL.

It’s safe to say Howard knows what makes a great defensive end and he feels Kareem could be one of the best in the country. 

“As far as college guys, Khalid is in the top five area of guys I’ve worked with,” explained Howard. “I’ve worked with a lot of guys from all over. He’s a top echelon guy. It’s my first year working with him and I’m excited to watch him. I’m excited to watch him play against Georgia, even though I’ll be pulling for Georgia. I definitely want to watch him play against those boys.” 

After working with Kareem this summer, Howard believes NFL scouts are going to fall in love with the Notre Dame standout. 

“He’s extremely quick,” Howard said. “The sky is the limit for Khalid. He’s definitely a first or a second-round guy at the latest. It depends on how he plays this year. He has the skill set to be a first-rounder. In my opinion, if he goes out there and gets nine or 10 sacks - with his size and length - I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be a Top 15 draft pick.

“I can definitely see why the scouts love him.” 

Howard isn’t the first to slap first-round potential on Kareem, but he also has trained some other top defensive lineman who could be drafted in the first round next spring. 

“I’ve trained a lot of good players,” stated Howard. “I’ve worked with Derrick Brown from Auburn and that’s a big explosive guy. Khalid is even more explosive. He’s not as big as Derrick, but Derrick is a potential top five or top ten draft pick.”

Brown shocked many and returned to school for his senior year and could be the nation’s top overall defensive lineman in the 2020 draft class. At 6-foot-5, 318 pounds, Brown plays inside, but Auburn has moved him outside to rush the passer in some situations and Howard believes Kareem could excel in a similar role as Clark Lea can move him around the defensive line. 

“I feel like Khalid can go inside in pass-rush situations if he wants to,” Howard explained. “He’s not a small guy. Khalid can use his quickness. He can be a deadly pass rusher. I know he had a few injuries last year, so I feel if he stays healthy, Khalid can go out and have a big year.

“It’s rare and that what makes him special. That’s why scouts are looking at him as a potential first-round pick. When you have the size, speed and athleticism – it was the first thing I noticed about him was how quick and explosive he was. He’s tall and has long arms. You can’t coach being quick, explosive and twitchy. NFL guys salivate over that and he has all those tools.” 

In the grand scheme of things, Howard is just getting to know Kareem, but he quickly noticed what everyone around Notre Dame has experienced over the last three years. 

“He’s a good kid,” said Howard. “He’s a good person. Khalid is humble. He’s eager to learn and that’s what is going to make him special. When you’re eager to learn and have talent, that is what separates the good from the great. He wants it and I think he’s going to get it.” 

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