BOCA RATON – Linebacker and leader Azeez Al-Shaair said goodbye to his FAU football career and the Owls faithful with a tweet on Tuesday, sent shortly before he was scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
The Owls’ career leader in tackles and the preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the year, Al-Shaair suffered the injury on a non-contact play during a practice leading up to the Owls’ Oct. 20 game at Marshall.
The injury ended his season and career at FAU.
“I will forever be indebted to coach (Charlie) Partridge for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this university and to the entire Kiffin family for all they have done for me in such little time we have been together,” Al-Shaair wrote in a message attached to the tweet. “Sadly due to my injury I won’t be able to suit up for another game day at FAU.”
To all of you who support me and still believe in me I promise you i will work harder than I ever have to God willing prove you all right.🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/Ud2gdURRSN
— Azeez Al-shaair (@A_train21_) November 6, 2018
In his message Al-Shaair also thanked God, his fiancee, friends and family, and strength and conditioning coach Wilson Love for their support over the past weeks.
Al-Shaair broke into the Owls’ lineup as a true freshman and never used a redshirt season. The possibility existed that he could petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility, but the NCAA rarely grants an extra year of eligibility to players in Al-Shaair’s situation.
“I want to thank the entire university from top to bottom for their full support in helping me on my long road to recovery and pursuing my NFL career,” Al-Shaair wrote.
Prior to the start of the season the NCAA expanded the number of games a player can play in and still receive a redshirt to four. Al-Shaair played in six games this season prior to the injury.
His last play as an Owl is one he’d probably like to forget. Officials flagged Al-Shaair for a questionable targeting penalty during the second quarter of the Owls’ victory over Old Dominion. By rule the penalty carried an ejection from the game.
Al-Shaair didn’t travel to Marshall following the injury but was on the sideline the following week for an FAU loss to La. Tech.
He made he trip with the team Saturday to see his Owls defeat FIU 49-14 in the Shula Bowl. Afterward, Al-Shaair helped carry the Shula Bowl trophy from the field to the FAU locker room.
Andrew Soroh replaced Al-Shaair in the Owls’ starting lineup. The senior averaged 8.0 tackles per game since entering he starting lineup.