Eddie Goldman hints at a favorite

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eddie Goldman, who is No. 2 in the ESPNU 150, has tried to play his recruitment close to the vest. That's growing harder to do for the five-star defensive tackle.

It became increasingly obvious that Florida State has made a very strong impression shortly after the official ceremony to name Goldman, the nation's top undecided prospect, to the Under Armour All-America Game in January. It was part of the 80-stop American Family Insurance presents the Under Armour All-America Game selection tour.

"It was playoff atmosphere," the 6-foot-4, 310-pound prospect from Washington (D.C.) Friendship said of his visit to Tallahassee, Fla., last month for the Oklahoma game. "It was to the point where it was past passion. People were standing the whole game. That's how loud it was. They lost, [so] it could have been better, but other than that it was great."

Goldman said he is working on an official visit to Alabama, but it seems as if any school other than Florida State will face a challenge to land the nation's top defensive tackle prospect.

"They are definitely on the rise," Goldman said. "They have the No. 1 quarterback [Jameis Winston], and their defensive line recruiting is through the roof."

Asked whether any other school has stood out as much as Florida State, Goldman said, "Recruitingwise, not really, but Florida State, they really have a good recruiting class."

Goldman said he'll announce his college decision on national signing day in February. He also is considering Auburn, California, Maryland, Miami and Clemson.

Chances are Goldman will receive another loud ovations if he chooses to announce his decision in the same location where he was presented with his ceremonial Under Armour jersey Thursday -- his high school gym. Goldman received a round of cheers as he walked to the stage, then a handful more during the short ceremony.

"It's not that I'm super popular, but I know a lot of people and a lot of people know me," Goldman said. "I get a lot of love from a lot of people."

Including from his coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.

"I think he is well respected," Abdul-Rahim said. "He's popular, but not in a sense that he's the life-of-the-party type, but he has a lot of respect."

Abdul-Rahim said that Goldman has long been guarded from making too many tight connections and that he has a small group of close friends.

"With some of his peers, he opens up," Abdul-Rahim said. "With me, he opens up, and with some of the coaches, he opens up and you can really have a conversation with him. But it's a process.

"When you're the big kid in the class, sometimes you want to be kind of introverted because people can expect you're overbearing."

Rahim said he didn't build up a strong connection with Goldman until the player's junior year.

"In ninth and 10th [grade], I didn't even know what his voice sounded like," Abdul-Rahim joked.

At one point, there was some concern that soft-spoken Goldman might have been trying to find a way to skip Thursday's ceremony to avoid the pressure of speaking in front of a gym full of students. Abdul-Rahim eventually had to go find Goldman.

"I was like 'Where's Eddie?'" Abdul-Rahim said. "I thought he actually was hiding."

Goldman's ascension has mirrored his school's. Friendship is 5-0 for the first time in its seven-year history thanks, in part, to Goldman's nine sacks despite near constant double- and triple-teams. Abdul-Rahim couldn't help but reflect on how far his program had come.

"Because this is a new school, it's such a new experience," he said. "To have ESPN here and to have Under Armour here, it's a big deal."

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.