MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rashad Muhammad is only 15 years old.
Still, his young age doesn't prevent him from studying the game of football.
Muhammad, who plays running back for Memphis' Briarcrest Christian School, admittedly spends a lot of time studying the likes of former NFL greats Emmitt Smith, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson.
No one appears more intriguing than Jackson, who, according to Muhammad, is the best rusher to ever play the game.
"Bo Jackson is my all-time favorite player," Muhammad told Bleacher Report during a recent interview. "He was an all-around player. He can play all sorts of sports."
Jackson, a former Auburn star and the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, was a force on the gridiron, which ultimately gave way to a solid professional career. Nowadays, Muhammad is clinging to lofty aspirations of making a name for himself in the backfield, much like Jackson did in the 1980s.
To his credit, Muhammad has quickly blossomed into one of the top rushers in the Shelby-Metro area in his brief time as a starter for Briarcrest. In helping the Saints to a postseason berth this past season, Muhammad emerged as a the team's featured back during a year in which he finished as the team's top rusher.
Through 10 starts, Muhammad showed no signs of rust as a first-year starter, having produced 745 yards and 10 touchdowns on 54 carries for a Briarcrest team that advanced to the playoffs despite a losing record (4-8).
Credit Muhammad for the Saints' late-season surge, in large part because the speedy, durable back showed that despite his lack of experience on the varsity roster, he could manufacture impressive numbers against the area's best defensive units.
"I don't want to be known as an average player," Muhammad said. "I want to be known as a great player, a great student average."
If nothing else, Muhammad appeared destined to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his first full season as a starter before a knee injury weeks into the season reduced his effectiveness. Muhammad injured his right knee during a 28-27 loss at Germantown in Week 4. After undergoing an MRI the following day, doctors discovered that an in-grown bone was chipped, an injury they said needed to heal on its own.
As a result, the Briarcrest coaching staff kept its featured back out of action for two weeks for precautionary reasons. Consequently, the Saints dropped their next two games, a sequence Muhammad sensed would have played out much differently if not for his early season injury.
"I wanted to play because I didn't want to sit on the sideline," Muhammad said of being sidelined. "But I had to cheer my team on. Looking back, I probably would have been more careful in what I was doing (before the injury)."
While Muhammad recouped comfortably from his knee injury, the Saints used him sparingly in the lineup the rest of the regular season. Still, he managed to register impressive numbers, which—fortunately for him—have already generated interest from multiple colleges.
Currently, Muhammad has garnered letters from Duke, Cincinnati, Georgia, Memphis, Colorado and Ole Miss among others, according to his father, Clarence Muhammad.
And with a summer itinerary that includes appearances at a host of camps and combines—one of which is Auburn—the possibility exists that Rashad will receive more feedback from colleges heading into what figures to be an intriguing junior season. In addition, Rashad is scheduled to participate in a month-long tour in June in that will include visiting eight major Division I colleges.
"Rashad Muhammad is an exceptional young man with tremendous football ability," said Major Wright, who coached Rashad the previous two seasons at Briarcrest. "His progress from his freshman season to his sophomore season was a testament to the amount of work he puts into it. He also places heavy emphasis on his academics. He will be a heavy contributor to the Briarcrest football team over the next two seasons."
Arguably the biggest reason Rashad is expected to witness his production increase next season is that he worked intensely this offseason to upgrade his mechanics, a trend that, according to him, has inspired him to set what he describes as an "attainable feat" during the 2014 season.
"I had set some goals for myself," Rashad said. "I want to get 2,000 yards (next season). I figured 1,000 is for the average person. So I plan to get 2,000 and 20 touchdowns. (My coaches) are hoping for big things for me this upcoming season."
As Clarence Muhammad tells it, the sky's the limit for his son, whom he said handled the maturation process well, particularly after his early-season injury.
"Rashad embodies exactly what every coach covets, and that's hard work and respect," Clarence Muhammad said. "Also, he's blessed to be in a two-parent home with support for his God-given athletic ability. He's tough. He's coachable, and he has had exposure, meaning he has seen the world from both sets of eyes, white and black. He desires success for himself."
Much like Bo Jackson did in the mid-1980s.
Not bad for a talented 15-year-old.
Watch Rashad's latest footage: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1603329/highlights/80871397
Watch Rashad Muhammad in action here.
This article was first published on MemphiSport.com on May 22.
Andre Johnson, a senior writer for MemphiSport, is a regular contributor for Bleacher Report. To reach Johnson, email him at email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.
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