Saboor Karriem didn’t pick up an offer from Pitt until a phone call with Tim Salem on Wednesday, but despite the relative lateness of the actual offer, he feels like the relationship is one of the very strongest he’s built.
“(Pitt is) a really good program,” Karriem told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “It’s not like they came late in my recruiting process. Sometimes when you have schools that offer later, it’s like, it kinda seems like they didn’t do their full recruitment since they came in so late, but because Pitt has been so early in my process, I don’t feel that way towards them.”
Karriem, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound three-star cornerback from West Orange High School in New Jersey, has been hearing from Pitt since at least late December, and in the last few weeks and months, he’s been talking on the phone with Tim Salem at least twice a week. He’s met Pat Narduzzi face-to-face, but the official offer didn’t come until Wednesday night.
Salem has been coming to West Orange for a while now, really building that bond with Karriem, and getting to build a genuine connection, with Salem in town for lifting sessions, workouts and practices, he was able to see Salem as the genuine guy he is. Karriem has been able to see that Salem actually cares about what he does, it’s not superficial.
“I’m thinking, you know, just a usual check-up,” Karriem said about picking up a phone call with Salem Wednesday. “So, my coach, coach Grant, I think he got off the phone with coach (Narduzzi), and they actually had a conversation. I think he knew, my mom knew, everybody knew they were gonna offer me before, so it was kind of a surprise to me.
“It actually felt really good, to be honest with you,” Karriem said. “We’ve been talking about it a long time and we all know Pitt just won the ACC championship, so it’s like, we’re talking big time football. It really felt good.”
With offers from Akron, Army, Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Georgia Tech, Howard, Illinois, Kent State, Louisville, Marshall, Maryland, Massachusetts, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Pitt, he’s been in high-demand, but Pitt’s offer has been a long time coming.
Karriem has that strong bond with Salem, but he’s known Tiquan Underwood since his time at Rutgers, and he’s begun to build a relationship with Cory Sanders after a visit to West Orange. And even Frank Cignetti Jr. has jumped into the action with Karriem, offering an interesting proposal.
“So, the OC (Frank Cignetti), he came up to the school, and he was like, ‘If you want to play receiver, we’ll offer you right now,’” Karriem said.
Karriem, a defender at heart, said no. And Pitt regrouped, watched the film once again and came back with an offer — at cornerback. As he said, Pitt went through the full process and still extended an offer.
And as a two-way star at West Orange, racking up 16 catches for 227 yards and six touchdowns as a wide receiver and a team-leading five interceptions as a cornerback, Karriem has seen the offers at both positions — but he’s a cornerback through and through.
“I think I play the boundary really well, a combination of my length, size and speed is what I pride myself on — defending that island,” Karriem said. “I think at the corner position, I could take down a team’s No. 1 wide receiver every week.”
With Pitt’s penchant for putting defensive backs in the NFL, a trend that continued with Damarri Mathis selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, Karriem said he’s noticed Pitt’s pipeline. And with his style of play, “staying on your island, staying 10 toes is what we call it in New Jersey, it’s just staying 10 toes and holding your own. Trusting what’s been instilled in you, the technique, your coaches, your teammates,” he’s a ready-made fit in Pitt’s defensive system.
“(The NFL is) the dream,” Karriem said. “We’ve been thinking about it since we were little. You used to joke around and say it, and now you’ve got the opportunity to do it. Coming up into a program that’s proven and produced NFL Draft picks, it’s definitely a big factor.”
247Sports rates Karriem as the 77th-ranked safety and 15th-ranked recruit from New Jersey, Rivals rates him as the 19th-ranked recruit from New Jersey and On3 rates him as the 64th-ranked cornerback and the 10h-ranked recruit from New Jersey.
With 14 unofficial visits made so far — and official visits planned for Illinois and Duke — in his recruiting process, Karriem has thoroughly looked into the schools interested in his services. And Pitt is getting a look — perhaps a couple.
“I actually visit Monday (for an unofficial),” Karriem told PSN. “I kinda just want to see what they present to me, see what they have to offer because I’ve been on 14 unofficials.”
Karriem actually began looking into an official Pitt visit before even being offered, so if Monday’s unofficial goes well, there’s a strong chance he’s back in Pittsburgh before June is over. And with his relationship with Pitt growing stronger and stronger, it has grown into a place that’s high up on his leaderboard.
“Pitt is definitely high on the list,” Karriem said. “It was a no-brainer, you know. For the longest time, we’ve been saying, when you have your top schools, we sit in the office and talk about top schools. It’s always, what if Pitt offers? So, Pitt is definitely top five. Hands down, top five.”