Kamaal Seymour made history at Grand Street last Wednesday when he became the first student at the school to sign with a Division I team.
But he was thinking of the program’s future — and those who would one day follow in his footsteps — when he signed to play football at Rutgers next season.
“I feel like I am kind of like the foundation for future athletes,” Seymour said.
He signed his National Letter of Intent during a ceremony at the school on Feb. 4. Defensive linemen Jacob Jones and Abdul Ajelero, who signed with Delaware State in the Football Championship Subdivision, joined Seymour at the ceremony.
It was the culmination of the best season in program history for Grand Street. It went 9–1 in the regular season before losing to eventual champion Abraham Lincoln in the semifinals. The school is now a place colleges will look to for talent — thanks to Seymour.
“At 6-foot-6, 299 pounds, we knew Kamaal will be the one to knock on the door, and everyone else will follow,” said Grand Street coach Bruce Eugene. “Kamaal brought them all in, and now it’s going to be a trend that will continue on.”
Seymour stuck with Rutgers after verbally committing there last April. The Scarlett Knights and coach Kyle Flood were the first to make him an offer after he attended their camp. The swift offer took Seymour by surprise.
“It felt like a dream,” he said. “I remember the next day I woke up and was like, ‘Did that really happen?’ ”
The day after the offer he gave his commitment to the Scarlet Knights. He felt the Rutgers staff showed they care about making him a better person, not just a better football player. Seymour, who only played two full seasons of high school football, said he wasn’t certain he could play at the next level until this year. He made 73 tackles and recorded 10 sacks as a senior.
“He’s worked extremely hard — working on his pass rush, his agility,” Eugene said. “He conditioned himself to be able to play every down.”
Seymour knew where he was heading for months, but Jones and Ajelero trusted in Eugene to find them a home for the next four years. Both received scholarship offers from Delaware State the Saturday before signing day.
“I’m just glad that Delaware State took a chance on me and I don’t want to disappoint them,” the 6-foot, 245-pound Ajelero said. “It was a surprise. Coach Eugene was working his magic behind the scenes.”
The shock was similar for the 6-foot-2, 279-pound Jones, who came to Grand Street after leaving the now-closed Bishop Ford. Getting to go with Ajelero made the opportunity at Delaware State even more of a dream.
While Seymour may have been the first Division I recruit from the school, both Ajelero and Jones feel like they are also playing their part in raising the profile of the Grand Street program.
“Now that three people are going to Division I, more colleges are going to start looking at Grand Street,” Jones said.