This is an excerpt from my story published in Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in it's entirety here.
As a hotshot running back and safety – one of the nation’s 10 best players according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming – Shabazz had plenty of suitors for his football services. His stock shot through the roof after a senior season capped by a 5-touchdown performance against Texarkana in the state finals.
In 2004, Mayflower football coach George Jones said of Darren McFadden, whom he’d coached against at the high school level: "He’s the best running back I have seen since Shabazz. He’s not in Shabazz’s class, but he’s probably as good as anybody else that has been through the state."
Shabazz’s top three football choices were Miami, Houston and Arkansas, with Arkansas in the driver’s seat, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Shabazz’s mother wanted him to go to Fayetteville. And the Razorbacks’ head coach Jack Crowe had endeared himself to Shabazz. "That was my boy," Shabazz recalled. Indeed, the University of Arkansas offered Shabazz a $1 million insurance policy as an incentive for signing. [at 2:40 mark in this interview]
But Shabazz passed.