Photo by USC Football

Former James Clemens Athlete “Adapting” To Play For Southern California Trojans

LOS ANGELES, Calif.- Jamil Muhammad lives in harmony. Over the last several years he’s learned to adapt to his surroundings, challenges and apprehensions with splendid divineness, which has allowed him to face those demands with huge success and confidence.

His most challenging point of life at age 22 is his position on Southern California’s football team. Muhammad is a starter at rush end for the fifth ranked Trojans making his spot on the Pac 12 squad after entering the transfer portal after three years at Georgia State. The former James Clemens High star quarterback was an All-Region selection and Honorable Mention All-State pick for his play in his senior season in 2018. He passed for 1,773 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 942 yards and 18 scores.

His performance led him to sign a scholarship with the Vanderbilt Commodores where he made his way to the school in Nashville as an early attendee so he could enter Spring practice with the SEC program in 2019. At the completion of Spring drills, Vandy coaches met with Muhammad and his family and the decision was made to transfer from the school. Upon his transfer to the Peach State he was beaten out at quarterback and the Panthers coaching staff asked him to move to defense wishing not to waste his natural athletic abilities.

He made the transition to linebacker and end rusher where he played three seasons for the Sun Belt Conference school. At the completion of his third campaign, he entered the transfer portal and soon received a call the USC Trojans wanted the 6-foot-1, 250-pound redshirt senior where he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

“I feel at home where I am now,” said Muhammad from his apartment in downtown Los Angeles just nine minutes from the USC campus. “Yes, it’s been a cultural change and been an adjustment, but you see I’m very comfortable with discomfort. I’ve had to adapt most of my life.”

His uncanny ability to adapt is astonishing. A devastating knee injury caused him to miss his entire junior season at James Clemens before returning for his All-State performance as a senior. Upon arriving at Vanderbilt he knew he needed a change so he adapted to the emotional disappointment of leaving and transferring to a different school. Once at Georgia State, he again was facing adversity with the position change and then the move to USC meant Muhammad again had to rely on his gifted intelligence and his faith in God.

“God is guiding me as he has brought me along the way in my life with the ACL injury to changes in schools and football situations,” said Muhammad, who attends “The One” church on a regular basis since beginning his stay in Southern California. “After my surgery, my thought was I had to take action and adapt to what I was facing. The experience altered my life. That made me more of whom I am today.”

Being a part of the legendary Southern Cal program is an honor for Muhammad who said getting used to the way his new team does things has been his biggest challenge, but he added, “The game is the same since I began playing at age five.”

Living in the shadows of Hollywood has given Muhammad the opportunities to run into a bevy of entertainment and sports stars, but he spends most of his spare time continuing his education by pursuing a master’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgia State. He goes to the movies, visits the nearby beach and spends quality time with his teammates.

Muhammad admits he misses his family 2,000 miles away back in Madison and is very thankful they have traveled to the Western United States to see him play. He also feels blessed his older brother, Marquez, 29, lives in the Los Angeles area and can spend as much time as possible with him. Muhammad added, “It’s great having him here as he was a big part of my being here. He even cuts my hair.”

Besides his excellent football talent he brings to the team, he carries with him a depth of knowledge with his education as he was a member of the Sun Belt Conference and Dean’s List while at Georgia State. Muhammad also feels he has brought along his natural “Southern charm” he carries with him.

“Just being from the South helps me to be better with my teammates,” added Muhammad, who goes by the nickname “Money Mil.” “They teased me when I first arrived. In many ways, the lingo here in L.A. has been different. It’s been fun.”

Being new to California and having been raised in the South he’s not used to the USC rivalries, but he’s growing accustomed to what those mean to the rich history of the program. “I can answer better when I play in one. We take a rivalry mindset to each game,” said Muhammad.

Turning to football, the high school two-sport athlete said the team’s mindset is it plays on its own terms during the game and are not concerned with other teams. “We’re just concerned on being 1-0 each week. We think we’re one of the best teams in the country,” said Muhammad.

Through three games of the 2023 season, the fifth ranked Trojans are 3-0. Muhammad has been a big contributor and spark plug for the defense with seven tackles, including five solo, has two tackles for loss and has caused two fumbles as the defense has given up just 17 points per game.

His being able to adapt to past experiences is eye-opening, to say the least. He’s excited about the opportunity he has at USC and he’s dominating his time and enjoying the experiences he’s currently facing as his life is racing along with the truest of harmony as he adapts to his new surroundings.

“I’m happy where I am. God has guided me. My spiritual faith keeps me going,” said Muhammad.

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