Al-Quadin Muhammad could hardly disguise his excitement over the New Orleans Saints selecting him in the sixth round (196th overall) Saturday, which marked the final day of the NFL Draft.
“I had really high expectations because that’s just the type of person I am,” Muhammad said in a teleconference. “I stayed praised up and I kept God first, and I stayed really close to my family.
“I worked extremely hard, I worked extremely, extremely hard at the Combine and at the Pro Day … After that, I felt I did everything that I needed to do, I felt that I interviewed well, I was honest, I felt just from those things, I felt as though great things were going to happen.”
The 6-foot-3, 253-pound Muhammad has every reason to feel euphoric when considering football was taken away the past season after being dismissed from the Miami football team over an NCAA investigation into allegedly receiving illicit benefits from a luxury car rental company.
The time away from the game caused Muhammad to reflect on what happened, and one of the major takeaways he pointed out surrounded a need to learn from mistakes to prevent them from happening again.
“I understand when rules and regulations are put in place, they’re there for a reason, they’re there for us to follow,” Muhammad said. “If you follow those guidelines, you can succeed and be great.”
The Saints agreed and conducted due diligence on Muhammad during the predraft process, including bringing him in on a predraft visit, before coming away with a very good feeling on the player.
“We spent a lot of time on campus, he was here,” coach Sean Payton said. “When you talk to people at the school, they had a strong opinion about him in regards to football make-up.
“Certainly made some mistakes, but there were ones that we were really comfortable with. You get into the rental car, what have you, this is a guy that loves football and we sat for a good round and a half waiting on this selection.”
Muhammad, a native of Irvington, N.J., totaled 60 tackles (39 solo), seven sacks, a pass defensed and a forced fumble in two seasons at Miami.
He joins third-round pick Trey Hendrickson as the newest defensive linemen expected to compete for playing time as the Saints look for a player to fill a complementary role alongside Cameron Jordan.
Given what Muhammad endured to reach this point, he won’t take anything for granted after losing out on playing a game he cherishes.
“Oh, man,” said Muhammad, his voice clear with emotion. “Going through that process, it showed me really how much I miss the game of football. I really miss the game of football because I love the game of football, and the game of football is going to help me in life as a person, as a father.
“Football is going to help me help others who are not as fortunate, people that actually look up to me. Going that process, I miss the game a lot and I’m not going to put myself ever in that position again because I know what football means to me.”