You might think each of Jamal Abdur-Rahman's arms was being twisted, maybe even hard, by his two primary football coaches at La Salle High.

Not quite. But as AbdurRahman put it after yesterday committing to Villanova, "They were very instrumental."

As the 5-9, 180-pound running back prepares for his senior season, he boasts 3,026 yards of rushing/receiving along with 260 points. And now he knows he will be a comfortable 'Cat.

Drew Gordon, La Salle's head coach, experienced some success for 'Nova as a quarterback in the early 1970s. Brett Gordon, Drew's son and La Salle's offensive coordinator, was an all-timer at that position for 'Nova in the early 2000s.

"Brett, of course, played for coach [Andy] Talley and he's been telling me he's a really good guy," Abdur-Rahman said. "Both said they really liked their experience at Villanova.

"A really nice thing is that their offense is similar to what we run at La Salle. Not many players can go into a college program [without having to make adjustments]. It's really going to help me to be so familiar with what they're doing. Easy transition."

Abdur-Rahman, who lives near 19th and Cheltenham, in West Oak Lane, figures he'll major in business or sports medicine. His runner-up choice was Maryland while Temple and Purdue were also prominent in his thoughts.

All but 'Nova boast I-A programs.

"But 'Nova's at the top of I-AA," Adbur-Rahman said, mindful that the Wildcats last season won the national title. "Plus, there's some talk that they could be part of the Big East very soon. It's nothing they're saying is definite, but it's out there. The coaches talked about it.

"Temple and Purdue like me, but hadn't offered yet. They weren't sold on me. They wanted to see my senior-year tapes. I wasn't feeling pressed to decide now. I did it because I fell in love with the players and coaches and knew it was where I wanted to be. It's nice to know that my family and friends will be able to come see me."

Abdur-Rahman said he was recruited as a running back, but figures he'll also see some spot duty as a slotback, considering his pass-catching success for the Explorers, the defending PIAA state champion at the Class AAAA level.