Michigan State finalized its 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday with 23 signees. One of those was three-star offensive tackle Mustafa Khaleefah, who is originally from Iraq. In a profile of his life journey, MLive.com tells the story of how Khaleefah and his family moved from Iraq to the United States when he was 9 years old.
The decision to move to the U.S. came as Khaleefah and his family lost friends, other neighbors, and even his own uncle to the war-torn streets of Iraq.
Once he reached middle school after moving, Khaleefah was introduced to the sport of football, but he didn’t learn it by playing it on the field. He actually learned all the rules by playing EA Sports’ Madden, believe it or not. He didn’t start playing the actual sport until his sophomore year of high school.
"I started playing Madden when I was in middle school," Khaleefah said. "I didn't play football yet but that is when I got to know football. I knew the rules from Madden, not because I played (football)."
It was not until he got to high school -- when he started growing into his current frame -- that people began telling him to go out for football. Yet, it took until his sophomore year to actually give it a try.
"So I said, 'why not?'" Khaleefah said. "I tried it out and I fell in love with the game."
Khaleefah committed to Michigan State last June, and he held offers from a few other schools, including Syracuse and Cincinnati. The offensive tackle is the second player from Dearborn, Mich. in 30 years to sign with a Big Ten school, per MLive.com.
Khaleefah adds that hopefully his own story will serve as motivation for others who may be in a similar situation that he was once in.
"Just for anybody who ever doubts the situation they are in or can't seem to find any success, you just have to keep trying," Khaleefah said. "No matter how many times you fail, you just have to keep going and believe in yourself. I think you'll find success in that."
You can read the full profile from MLive here.