Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Once Johnson, Now Mujaahid Abd Allah

By Ted Lee Editor, The Bear InsiderDate: Apr 4, 2005
When the spring football roster came out - two of the questions that jumped out at Bear fans was "What happened to Justin Johnson?" and "Is Fahim Mujaahid Abd Allah some new mystery recruit that the coaching staff found?"
As it turns out, (the former) Justin Johnson and Fahim Mujaahid Abd Allah are one and the same person - the defensive end from City College of San Francisco who recorded 32.5 sacks during the 2002 and 2003 seasons before redshirting at Cal last year. Mujaahid Abd Allah will be looking to help fill a void by the departure of All-American Ryan Riddle, who had a school-record 14.5 sacks last season.
Mujaahid Abd Allah spent much of the offseason working on gaining weight and strength.
"I had an injury last year and during that time I lost some weight," said the Marin Catholic grad who came to Cal with a listed weight of 245 lbs. "Last year I was between 228 and 245. Right now, I'm up to 255 this spring. I'd like to get up to 265 and then drop some weight in fall camp."
Standing on the sidelines for a season can be tough for a player who's used to competing every year, but Mujaahid abd Allah actually sat out the 2001 football season while taking classes, so last year wasn't a completely new experience for him.
"Sitting and watching took some getting used to [in 2001]," said Mujaahid Abd Allah, who feels that taking a year to acclimate to Divsion I football will be beneficial. "The talent level here is higher, and I found that I really needed that redshirt year. When you redshirt, you do all the work and you do everything in practice that he starters do.It's a different mindset when you play versus when you redshirt. You have to motivate yourself that much more and take in all the coaching you can because it's going to help you when it's your time to play."
He travelled with the team to last year's Holiday Bowl and had a difficult time watching his teammates struggle.
"Being on the sideline, you want to support your teammates," Mujaahid Abd Allah said. "Even if you get down, the game's not over. We didn't want to end our season like that, we want to be as perfect as we can....Personally the loss stayed with me."
He'll be one of four CCSF players expected to make key contributions to this year's team - and in 2003, he played alongside QB Joseph Ayoob and LB Desmond Bishop in leading the Rams to the JuCo National Championship.
"It's great to have other CCSF people on the team," said Mujaahid Abd Allah, who enjoys listening to Mac Dre in his spare time. "I've played with Desmond Bishop for a year, I know what the's going to do and how hard he works and I'm looking forward to playing with him again."
A significant personal change also took place for Mujaahid Abd Allah during the offseason, one which is why he is no longer Justin Johnson.
"During the offseason I became a Muslim and needed to choose a name. I chose Fahim which means intelligent and Mujaahid which means 'fighter in the way of Allah' and abd Allah which means 'servant of Allah.'"
"It's given me a fresh start; a chance to be a new person and leave some of the older things behind. It's provided a starting point and given me something higher to answer to. In the beginning some people had a hard time (with the name change), but within two or three weeks, most people were calling me Fahim. Sometimes during the heat of a practice, the coaches'll call me Justin, but then they'll correct themselves."
Mujaahid Abd Allah figures to be part of a group including Steve Kelly, Tosh Lupoi, Nu'u Tafisi, and occasionally Phillip Mbakogu who will be seeing time for the Bears at defensive end this season.

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