COLLEGE RECRUITING: Catholic Central’s Jaffer signs with Oakland
BY DAN STICKRADT
PH: (248) 884-1051
ROCHESTER HILLS – One of Michigan’s top youth soccer players, Ali Jaffer, signed this week with Division I Oakland University.
Jaffer, who served as a senior midfielder for Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s state- and nationally-ranked squad last fall, is also currently rostered with the Vardar MLS Next Academy U-19 roster. He chose the Golden Grizzlies over numerous offers from around the country.
"Ali is an exciting signing for us, as he is an extremely dynamic player that can play anywhere across the front four attacking positions," said Oakland head coach Eric Pogue in a recent release by Oakland’s Athletics Communications Department. "He is very smooth on the ball and reminds me of some past Oakland greats, like my teammate Rob Wisser, as well as Tommy Catalano, which are great players to be compared to. We have high hopes for Ali and expect him to come in and compete to contribute from Day One in Oakland Black & Gold.”
Jaffer earned numerous post-season accolades this past fall in the high school ranks, including being named to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Dream Team, an 11-member postseason squad of some of the state’s best high school prospects. He also earned Division 1 All-State First Team, All-Region, All-District, CHSL Central Division All-Catholic First Team, and to the inaugural Michigan Soccer Network Super Team, a 25-player collection of players from all divisions and governing bodies.
Jaffer finished in the top five on the Shamrocks’ leaderboard for goals, assists and total points in 2022, his only high school season. Jaffer played in either the Michigan Wolves or Vardar academy systems as a freshman, sophomore and junior before joining the Catholic Central varsity side this past fall. He rejoined the Vardar U-19 side back in November after getting a release from Vardar to play one season with his high school team.
While in the Shamrocks’ uniform, Catholic Central garnered plenty of success. Jaffer aided the Shamrocks to a 20-2-3 overall record, including 5-0-1 in the CHSL Central Division. Catholic Central also won the CHSL Bishop Tournament championship, Balconi Invitational Tournament crown, and both Division 1 District and Regional titles. Catholic Central reached the Division 1 Final Four before succumbing to fellow state-ranked Rockford (3-0) in the state semifinals.
During the regular season, Jaffer and the Shamrocks were ranked either first or second in the state, and finished third in the Division 1 postseason final poll. Jaffer’s team outscored the opposition 83-15 over 25 games and also posted 14 shutouts during a rigorous schedule.
Jaffer was one of four Shamrocks to earn All-State First Team accolades, joining Mr. Soccer Kyle Pierson, Drew Pierson and Jack Rogers. Catholic Central had five total All-State players this past season.
Jaffer is the second Catholic Central player to sign with a Division I college program, as forward Kyle Pierson inked with the University of Michigan earlier this past school year.
Amongst his highlights, Jaffer tallied the golden goal in double-overtime to lift the Shamrocks over Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood in the CHSL Bishop Division Tournament Championship back in mid-October and also scored or assisted on many key tallies throughout the season.
On the academy circuit, Jaffer also ranks amongst his squad’s goals, assists and point leaders and is one of several high college prospects on that roster. “Ali comes with a great background and pedigree having developed with the Vardar MLS Next Academy under our assistant coach Mike Lupinec as well as at Detroit Catholic Central High School under Gene Pulice, as one of the top high school players in Michigan and a Dream Team member.” “I am blessed to receive this incredible opportunity to wear the Oakland Black & Gold this August," Jaffer shared to OU’s Athletics Communications. “I would like to give a huge thanks to Coach Pogue and the entire Oakland coaching staff for this incredible opportunity. I look forward to competing for and winning Horizon League Championships and making NCAA Tournament runs as a Golden Grizzly.” Since joining the Horizon League for the 2013 campaign, Oakland has captured the conference title and qualified for the NCAA Tournament three times, most recently in 2021. The Golden Grizzlies have a long-standing tradition of contending for conference and conference tournament titles and reaching either the NCAA Division I or NCAA Division II national tournaments. Oakland became a Division I school in the late 1990s.