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Archive for Thursday, September 23, 1999

FOOTBALL A FAMILY AFFAIR FOR ABDUL-RAHIMS

September 23, 1999

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Aazaar Abdul-Rahim is a starting cornerback at San Diego State, and Muhammad plays cornerback for the Jayhawks.

If you grew up in the Abdul-Rahim household in Washington, D.C., you played football.

It was that simple.

Well, OK, two of the six boys didn't, but they weren't quite the outcasts that Ahmad was. See, the Abdul-Rahim boys played cornerback, just like their dad, and Ahmad had the audacity to play -- gasp -- wide receiver.

"He was the only one on offense," said Muhammad Abdul-Rahim, a senior corner at Kansas University. "He was the black sheep."

Two of the good sons -- Muhammad and Aazaar -- will play against each other on Saturday, when KU plays host to San Diego State. Muhammad is a backup KU corner, while Aazaar is a starter at SDSU.

"We've been talking about it since I signed with Kansas," Muhammad said. "That's one reason I came to Kansas. He's always telling me they'll do this to us, and I just take up for my team. " It's a big game for me and my team. I want to talk trash."

"I'm very much looking forward to it," added Aazaar via a teleconference. "I've been looking forward to it since he signed with KU. Hopefully, we can win, but I want him to play well."

For the record, Aazaar is older, by a year, but he sat out a year at junior college to nurse a serious ankle injury. The two brothers played together at Washington's Dunbar High -- Muhammad was a safety then, and Aazaar was a corner -- and they were the starting corners for a year at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.

After a year at Mesa, Muhammad transferred to Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC, and Aazaar went off to SDSU.

That the two went on to play Div. I-A football was no surprise. After all, their father, Omar, played professionally, and Ahmad, the black sheep, played at Maryland. And there's a little brother still in high school who, Muhammad said, will play major-college ball as well.

"He's the best," Muhammad said. "He's learned from all of us."

Curiously, Muhammad is a reluctant corner.

"I really don't like corner," he said. "I was forced to play it."

The two Abdul-Rahims on the field Saturday are similar in size and style, and they even wear the same jersey number, 23.

Aazaar is 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, while Muhammad is 6-foot, 185 pounds.

"He does some things better than me," Muhammad said, "but I do some things better than him. I think I'm a better hitter. He's a better tackler. Our coverage skills might be equal."

"Both of us are about even," Aazaar said. "He's more physical. I might have more quickness."

One striking difference is their roles. Aazaar is a three-year starter for the Aztecs -- he red-shirted a year at Mesa -- while Muhammad lost his starting job last season to true freshman Andrew Davison. But with fellow backup Chad Coellner questionable with a hamstring pull, Muhammad should play plenty on Saturday.

Muhammad didn't make any plays last week in the Jayhawks' 51-17 loss at Colorado. He missed practice all last week so he could be with his fiancee and newborn son, Muhammad Abdul-Rahim Jr. The younger Muhammad was born to Ikisha Little on Sept. 12, a day after the Jayhawks' 71-14 rout of Cal State Northridge.

The brothers should have plenty of family cheerleaders in the Memorial Stadium stands Saturday. They expect both parents and several siblings -- there are eight in all -- to attend.

"My mother told me she was going to get a half-Kansas shirt and a half-San Diego State shirt," Muhammad said. "I think everybody else will wear regular clothes. She wants to support us both."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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