Coming into his senior season, Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) defensive lineman Ahmad Moten did not have an offer, but that all changed once the 6'3", 295lbs South Florida standout's film started to circulate. Now, Moten holds over 20 Division 1 offers and is down to a group of five schools, including Iowa State, North Carolina, Miami, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. He goes in-depth with Sports Illustrated on his top five and future plans.
"It was crazy," Moten said of the recruitment explosion. "At first, I wasn't really worried about the offers and stars and stuff, but of course, I wanted them. I just wanted to play. With coaches seeing me going 100% each play, I knew it was going to pay off. I thank God for that. That my whole October, my phone went from zero to one-hundred, really quick, it was every week in October that I got an offer. I think I got fifteen that month, then November came along, and I got 23 offers in those two months."
Moten's on-field play was the obvious reason for his recruitment explosion, and it was a driving force behind Cardinal Gibbons's back-to-back state title run.
"I mean, it is crazy," Moten said of repeating as state champions. "My last season, we had to make sure we made it our best season. To go back-to-back state championships is hard, but that is what you have to do. It just started in the spring when I realized we could go back-to-back. We had lost a lot of key components, but we were working hard, and I started to see that growth. When we came back in the summer, we were consistent in the weight room, and it shows that it paid off in the season. As far as the season, it couldn't have gone better. Back-to-back state champions is crazy."
Following his season, Moten released his top list of schools, which he will focus on in the coming weeks leading into the late signing period in February. Below is what he had to say on each one.
On Oklahoma: "Coach Venables recruited me at Clemson. He was recruiting me hard at Clemson, but then he made the move to Oklahoma, and I was his first offer as the head coach at Oklahoma. That is special to me because he is trying to take a chance on me and keep the program where it is at or do even better. For him to give me that first offer, that just says that maybe this guy really wants me and cares about me. That is a big step for Oklahoma. That is why they are a top school. It is Brent Venables. Look who he has produced, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant; that whole defensive line is in the league right now."
On Miami: "So, at first, when I got the Miami offer, they weren't a top-five school. They weren't even a top-ten school. Just how they were recruiting me, I knew something was up. But, while Coach Cristobal was at Oregon, I was leaning towards Oregon heavy, and that was my dream school as a kid. Him coming to Miami, they went from outside the top-ten to a top-five just like that. That is just how Mario Cristobal is. I wasn't leaning towards Oregon because of the Nike uniforms or anything like that, I was leaning towards Oregon because of the coach. When he made that move, he called me as he was boarding the jet to tell me we would stay in contact, and he would talk to me once he was down there."
On Tennessee: "They came to my house during the contact period and talked with me and my parents. My dad loved them, and I loved them too. Because my dad loved them, I loved them even more. Looking back on who Coach Garner has produced, take that Auburn team; when you have Derek Brown and Marlon Davidson wearing single-digit numbers, you know they are good. I used to watch Derek Brown every day because that is who I remind myself of, like a Derek Brown or Chris Jones type. That is why Tennessee made the list is because of who the defensive line coach is and what he has done and produced. I am trying to be like some of those guys."
On Iowa State: "For one, they were one of my first offers. Secondly, when I got into research on their defense, they run a 3-3-5, so I thought they were recruiting me as a nose guard, but when I got there on the official visit, and it turned out they wanted me at a five-technique. They think I am athletic and quick enough to play there. That really boosted them. The coaches, Coach Campbell, Coach Rasheed, show nothing but love. Coach Rasheed is my guy. We can talk about anything, and that means a lot because I am not even at the school. It is nothing but love, and I had a great time up there."
On North Carolina: "Coach Cross came down here the first week in December and wanted to talk to me. When he came down, I could tell, that is one of those D-lineman coaches that I can talk to him about anything. Him not even talking about football and wanting to get to know me and see how I am as a person and taking his time to come and see me meant a lot. Then the people he has developed, I want to be one of those guys, so that is why UNC made the top five. Then Coach Cross is just a cool dude, he is faithful, and I can tell he is a good man."
Moten has an official visit planned to Tennessee on January 14th and is currently working on setting up his other official visits.
So, in the end, what will it take for one of these five schools to win out?
"That is going to be a hard decision to make, but I would say wherever I feel like at home," Moten said. "Where I feel like I can be one of the guys, get on the field, get developed, and get to the league. I am just looking for the best program that can do that for me. It is going to be a tough decision, but it is one that has to be made. I will talk to my family, and we will make the decision that is best for me."
Moten has utilized his brother, Anthony, a former top-rated prospect in the 2014 class, to help him navigate the fast-paced process.
"It is Anthony Moten, I mean, coming out of high school with 40 plus offers, it doesn't get any better than what he did," he said. "He has been telling me everything. It is a unique tool but a very blessed tool. He has been through everything already, from interviews with reporters to talking with coaches, so he tells me the stuff that I need to hear and the pros and cons of what I need to look for. He tells me what he did wrong during the process, so I won't do that. He is telling me everything that I need to hear. He is helping me a lot."
Whenever the time comes, Moten is certain of what one school will get in his services.
"They are going to get a dawg regardless of where I go. A person that is going to do whatever it takes to get on the field early and help the program."