Not too long ago, Eddie Goldman had aspirations of playing tight end. When he entered Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C., he wanted the ball in his hands.
"Yeah, I thought of myself as more of a skill player," Goldman said. "I thought I was a tight end in high school when I first got there. I wasn't too happy about moving to the defensive line."
His head coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, thought otherwise and moved Goldman to defensive tackle. He looks back and laughs at the thought of his star playing on offense.
"Oh, I almost forgot about that tight end foolishness from Eddie," Abdul-Rahim said. "All these new linemen coming in and no one wanted to play on the line. Eddie didn't, that's for sure. But he came around."
You can say that again. Goldman is now a five-star defensive tackle and the nation's No. 2 overall recruit in the ESPNU 150 in the Class of 2012. At 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, Goldman is a powerful force on the inside who can move the line of scrimmage. He's also the team leader, but it's not something he does vocally.
"Eddie is a silent leader. He leads by example," Abdul-Rahim said. "Eddie is a great kid beyond the physical gifts he has. We preach character and measure success by how you help and affect other people. It's not about being a five-star prospect but how you help other people.
"On the field he's a specimen. Eddie is explosive and powerful."
Goldman didn't start playing football until middle school. As an eighth grader, he was 6-0 and 240 pounds. He may not have known much about the game, but he knew even back then how to wreak havoc on an offense.
"Since he started playing, Eddie was dominant," said Eddie Muhammad, Eddie Goldman's father. "He was always much bigger than kids his age, especially when he was younger. When he was in junior high school, he was unreal. Sacks and forced fumbles were common. He played with no technique.
"Eddie started playing in the eighth grade. He didn't play Pop Warner, Little League or nothing like that. I had time constraints, and living how we were living we had no vehicle. But he always loved football before he could even talk. I have a picture of Eddie holding a football with a pacifier in his mouth. He always loved the game and he probably took his cue from me."
It took some time for Goldman to settle into his defensive tackle role. He showed some flashes as a freshman, but it took another season for Goldman to bust out. There were two big factors going his way: experience and getting a full year in the offseason to train with his coaches and team.
"His ninth-grade year was not dominant," Muhammad said. "He lacked a little confidence and knowledge but showed flashes. His 10th-grade year was a totally different story. He was more mature and went through a full year with his team and coaches. Coach Rahim runs a tight ship and that staff is real professional. He had a full year with the coaches and was learning things like technique and just things he didn't know. That enabled him to enhance his play. He began to grow mentally and to have an understanding what it took to become better and dominate the man in front of him."
Abdul-Rahim saw the same things.
"It was more of a mental improvement," Abdul-Rahim said. "Eddie was powerful when he came here. I think somewhere, subconsciously, these guys walk around timid because they are bigger than everyone. With Eddie it was a mental block, and once that block came tumbling down he became that player."
That player is now a force with scholarship offers from coast to coast. Defensive tackles like Goldman don't come around that often. Muhammad always knew his son was gifted and thought he would have a chance to do something special.
"I think I knew right away he had a chance because he was good athletically," Muhammad said. "I kind of always knew that because we used to go one-on-one on the basketball court. He had my frame and I didn't know if he would be more athletic than me. I'm an athletic guy, especially when I was younger. A lot of people saw him and said he looked the part, and I was always hoping and wishing he would be above-average and play the part. He has."
While his coach and father saw something in him, Goldman never felt that he arrived until he got his very first scholarship offer. That changed everything for him.
"It hit me in the 10th grade," Goldman said. "I got my first scholarship offer from Maryland. That's when I realized I had the potential to be one of the top defensive tackles in high school. I knew that whatever I did to get to this point, I can triple it. That offer made me work harder. All the offers still make me work harder."
While he may be one of the most coveted prospects in the country, Goldman shies away from the recruiting process itself. It's not something he likes, especially the attention that comes with being the nation's No. 1 interior lineman.
"My role," Muhammad said, "is trying to get as much knowledge and understanding of the college landscape, culture, rules and the NCAA. I am trying to learn as much as I can and format that to a degree and filter it to Eddie's mind to help him understand it. I want him to understand things about the next level and break it down and feed it to him. He has so much on his plate that I believe this will really help him."
While his father is researching schools, coaches and the process itself, his coach is helping in another capacity.
"My role is more of a shield right now from the negative recruiting -- street agents and the pop-up mentor," Abdul-Rahim said. "Eddie is the type of kid that doesn't enjoy the recruiting process. He's getting better about speaking to the media. He's just more of an introverted kid.
"As a coach, you know your players, and this is one that you can't let him go anywhere by himself. The main thing is seeing if he fits in with the scheme and likes the position coach. We just have to take him places and see what he likes and doesn't like."
At this point, Goldman is open to a bunch of schools -- Maryland, Virginia, Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Cal and Georgia. He has visited Maryland, Alabama, Miami, North Carolina, Clemson, FSU, Florida and West Virginia, and he was at Cal last weekend.
"I had a real good visit to Cal," Goldman said. "I like the coaches and I liked the campus. The staff is great. It's a quiet place but a fun place. I got to see San Francisco and it's beautiful. I hung out with some of the players. I camped there and did a morning session. I played well.
"Those are the schools I am interested in, and two I want to know more about are LSU and Ohio State. I will cut it down even further during the season or right before."
In the end, Goldman knows his priorities.
"I am looking at the scheme, the people in the program and the relationships with players and the coaches," Goldman said. "Those are the things that will be important to me."
In the meantime, Goldman is working hard to prepare for his final season of high school ball. He has expectations this fall and so does his coach.
"I just want to see Eddie be extremely dominant," Abdul-Rahim said. "In high school, linemen get tagged with taking plays off. He needs to be dominant every play. With him being the top player at his position, he has to show that on the field. He has to infuse what he has on other people. That will not only affect the game but affect his teammates. It's contagious."