EDWARDSVILLE — Irish eyes were smiling on Edwardsville senior Kendall Abdur-Rahman on Wednesday evening inside the Jon Davis Wrestling Center.
Abdur-Rahman signed his letter of intent to play college football for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He sent in his paperwork at 7:02 a.m. Wednesday and celebrated that evening with friends and family in a ceremony inside the Jon Davis Wrestling Center auditorium.
“I’m super excited. Today felt great. I finished out my finals strong and to sign this morning was a big stress reliever,” said Abdur-Rahman, who will play wide receiver for the Irish. “(Notre Dame wide receivers) coach (DelVaughn) Alexander called me right after it and it put a smile on my face. He asked me how everything was going and said he was happy for me.”
A two-time All-State selection and two-time Intelligencer MVP, Abdur-Rahman had 11 other offers, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Missouri and Purdue according to 247sports and Rivals.
There was no topping the prestigious Irish, who have won 11 national championships and are aiming for a 12th when they play in the College Football Playoff as the third seed against second-seeded Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30. The national championship game is Jan. 7.
“It’s a great atmosphere and one of the best fanbases in the country,” Abdur-Rahman said. “You go to school the next week and there’s only a few amount of students. Everyone interacts. It’s a great environment. The coaches are also cool.”
Ranked as a four-star recruit and the 17th-best athlete nationally and fifth in Illinois by 247sports.com, the 6-1, 180-pound Abdur-Rahman committed to the Irish on Sept. 9. He made his official visit to the South Bend campus on Sept. 1, when the Irish hosted Michigan in a Saturday night game. Notre Dame originally offered Abdur-Rahman on Feb. 6.
Abdur-Rahman told Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly about his commitment at dinner during his official visit.
“After a few meetings with the coaches, I told my mom before we went to dinner at coach Kelly’s house that I wanted to make my decision. She felt the same way,” Abdur-Rahman said. “It was unreal. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid. Notre Dame is a great school and I never saw myself doing this. To see how happy my mom is, it’s crazy.”
Notre Dame will be getting an elusive athlete with breakaway speed that frustrated prep opponents for the past two seasons.
Abdur-Rahman rushed for 1,135 yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior season. He also threw for 647 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was a threat to score regardless of field position and proved that on a game-by-game basis.
Of the 19 rushing touchdowns, 10 came from at least 40 yards and he finished with five scores of 80 yards or more.
“Kendall is still the best kid I’ve ever coached with the ball in his hands,” EHS coach Matt Martin said.
Five times Abdur-Rahman rushed for at least 100 yards in a game, including a career-high 225 yards and four touchdowns against CBC. In the postseason opener at Evanston, he rushed for 192 yards and two scores.
The Edwardsville offense averaged 40.58 points this season — the most under Martin — and Abdur-Rahman was a major reason for the offensive explosion.
As a junior, Abdur-Rahman rushed for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also passed for 580 yards and eight touchdowns. He was one rushing touchdown shy of tying the program’s single-season mark.
“Kendall has that home run speed,” Martin said. “It’s impressive because every defensive coordinator is going to try and take away what you do best. Some of them still couldn’t do it.”
As a two-year starter, Abdur-Rahman led the Tigers to a 17-8 record and appearances in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the postseason. Edwardsville went 8-4 this season with a loss to top-ranked Lincoln-Way East in the quarterfinals. It made the semifinals a year ago.
“There’s no other school that I would rather go to than Edwardsville. There’s no other program with the relationships we had with these coaches,” Abdur-Rahman said.
Abdur-Rahman became the first Edwardsville quarterback to receive All-State recognition in consecutive seasons since Dan Marinko in 2013 and 2014.
After spending two years as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, Abdur-Rahman will make the switch to wide receiver in college.
Abdur-Rahman is open to the position change.
“I just want to get on the field and play,” Abdur-Rahman said.
Abdur-Rahman is unsure of a major but is lean towards sports psychology. He would like to follow a career in athletic training.
“If I don’t go further to the NFL,” Abdur-Rahman said, “Notre Dame sets me up perfectly. It’s a great school.”