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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Kahlil Ali poses under the framed jerseys of his brother Kareem on display at Adrenaline Sports Performance in Cherry Hill. Photo by Al Thompson

There is an old proverb that wants us to believe “you are what you surround yourself with.”

If there is any truth to that saying, then Pennsauken High School athlete Kahlil Ali has been in good hands for a long time. Ali plays multiple positions on the Indians football team—offense and defense. The senior-to-be is also a valuable member of the Pennsauken track team, also competing in multiple events. In high school, Ali is coached in both sports by the same man… Mr. Clinton Tabb, who is entering his 19th year teaching and coaching at Pennsauken High School. In addition to teaching ninth grade health and physical education, Tabb is the head football, indoor track and boys outdoor track coach. If that is not cool enough, Ali’s brother Kareem is the defensive backs coach for the Indians. When he is not training or competing on campus, Kahlil Ali can often be found at the Adrenaline Sports Performance & Personal Training facility in Cherry Hill under the tutelage of longtime training guru Chad Hallet, who has produced so many college and pro athletes over the years, he can’t fit all the framed jerseys his athletes have given him on the walls of his facility on Old Cuthbert Road…including two from Kareem. Kahlil talked about how he found his spot under Hallett’s wing. “My older brother grew up training under Chad Hallett,” Kahill said in a recent on-site interview. “My brother was still at Western Michigan and Temple. I had started to come here with him.” Kareem played for Timber Creek then went on to play cornerback for Temple from 2015 through 2018, then finished his career in 2019 at Western Michigan. Now he is his little brother’s position coach. “He’s always after me,” Kahlil said with a laugh. Kahlil is being recruited to play football by some of the top programs in the United States. He says he is taking his time and enjoying his last season as a kid. "I definitely do appreciate finally ending up high school ball," Kahlil Ali said. "After this it's all business. Everything has been positive, it's been good." Coach Tabb has used Kahlil all over the field. His young athlete says he loves it that way. “I’m at safety, corner, nickel back…where ever they need me to play. I just want the opportunity to get out there on the field; then play early my freshman year (in college).” On offense, Ali says he usually plays receiver but will play quarterback in the ‘wildcat.’ “I may play outside linebacker in my last year,” Kahlil added. “I want to have fun. I like special teams as well…kickoff team.” Does he ever come off the field? “I never do,: Kahlil said with a smile. “That’s the best part. I just want to go out there and have fun.”

Kahlil Ali has been a two-sport standout athlete at Pennsauken High School. Photo by Al Thompson

Ali knows he is more valuable to his coaches if he is proficient at more than one position. ”I think what sets me apart from other people is my versatility,” Ali said. “I’m not just a safety, I can play anywhere.” Ali has learned from his brother and his father – who played football at Temple – that accepting coaching is as important as any part of his process, his growth. “That’s a big part,” Ali said. “I can take coaching in any way. I just want to get better. I feel that I am getting better by being coached up and learning.” Ali recently posted the final five college football programs he is interested in investing his future with and they include Cincinnati, Boston College, Pitt, Louisville and West Virginia.

His list before that included Akron, Buffalo, Florida State, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, Old Dominion, Ole Miss, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia, Wisconsin. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was a two-way threat as a junior at Pennsauken as a running back/wide receiver and a defensive back. He ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and hauled in 25 passes for 424 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 25 tackles (combined), a tackle for loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble and two recoveries — scoring once on defense and once on special teams. Ali said he plans to visit the five schools and make a decision before the start of the 2022 season. “Sometime this summer,” he said. Ali admits Hallett is helping him learned what it’s like at the next level. “Working with Chad, he’s been putting me through all the right stuff, showing me what college is like, between the workouts and off the workouts,: Ali said. “He’s telling me what it’s about. I’m glad he’s got people here (at Adrenaline) telling me what it’s like as well. I feel Chad’s doing a great job with that.” Hallett says Ali’s future is as bright as he wants it to be. “His future is bright very bright!” Hallett said. “This kid will definitely be playing on Sundays in the near future. He has all the ingredients it takes to make it. Incredible work ethic, coachable and undeniable skill.” Ali says he has goals for 2022. ”I want to work on my man-to-man,” said Ali, who lists Rams DB Jalen Ramsey and Saints safety CJ Gardner as NFL players he admires. “My goal this year is to get 10 interceptions. That’s my main goal. I just want to progress from my freshman year to my senior year. That was my goal since my freshman year. And make sure I’m getting better. ” Ali said he believes the better numbers he puts up, the more wins Pennsauken will rack up. In 2021, the Indians posted an overall record of 8-3. Pennsauken made it to the second round of the Group 4 playoffs, losing to Millville 50-15. Their only league loss was to Burlington Township. “My biggest goal is to win the state championship at Pennsauken,” said Ali, who lists WR DeVonta Smith, QB Jalen Hurts and DB Darius Slay as his favorite Eagles. “ [Those losses] are a big motivation going into next season.” He'll be surrounded by the right people during that process. *

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