Recruiting has changed, as it continues to get quicker and quicker for prospects that can flash potential early on in their high school careers. It is such for Corey Malone-Hatcher, just a high school freshman at St. Joseph (Mich.) High School.
However, he was on the recruiting radar with Alabama last summer, and has since only increased his size, stock and the amount of college programs inquiring about his talent as a defensive end.
But over the weekend, the 2017 talent and his family were back in Tuscaloosa to take in Nick Saban and company's first spring scrimmage and much more.
"It was the first recruiting weekend for Corey and it was an awesome time. They rolled out the red carpet," said Orlando Orlando Malone, the freshman's father. "Saban spent time with us on both days. He was surprised at his size for so young. He talked to him about what he likes about his game and explained how he saw him fitting Into what ‘Bama does.
"They had him visit the trainer to get height and weight looked at officially. He is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. When Corey visited over the summer last year, they had him at 203 pounds. This is why they were surprised at how much he's grown. Close to 25 pounds since the last time they saw him."
The growing edge rushing prospect continued to make an impression at Alabama with recruits, signees and commitments alike, as well as the rest of the coaching staff.
"Saban spent time explaining the process and told him the next things they wanted to see," Malone said. "The staff was very surprised at how strong Corey is, too. I actually shared a video of him benching 315 pounds, dead lifting 405 pounds and squatting 500 pounds for three reps.
"We hung out with the other commits and they all started selling us on ‘Bama."
Williams (left) with Malone-Hatcher over the weekend (photo provided).
Already with a return trip to Tuscaloosa planned for June, which would mark three trips from Michigan to Alabama before Malone-Hatcher begins his sophomore season of high school, area-recruiter Bobby Williams plans on keeping tabs on the young standout.
"They like his athleticism and strength," the elder Malone said. "Right now, they see him as a hybrid that can be up or down. They mention Courtney Upshaw of the Ravens as someone they see him as."
Alabama was seemingly impressed with the recruit, but the family was also taken back by what it was able to see while in town.
"The wow moment for us was when Coach Williams agreed for us to come down for the weekend," Malone said. "You see a few 2017s getting offered, but not at DE. For ‘Bama to want us to come down for Corey's first recruiting weekend was big. Then, having Saban request to meet with you, but then to talk about what aspect of your game he likes, it means that he actually viewed your film. To hear him talk about how explosive the first step is confirmed a lot for us. It said a lot.
"Also, when they mentioned that they want Corey to play for them and gave him the challenge to keep working hard. That said a lot. But the best part of the weekend was seeing Saban operate up close and in person. You hear about how tough he is. Well, he is tough, but he proved to us he cares and he's actually a pretty funny guy."
Adding that his son is "super motivated" to continue to enhance his game and prove his versatility as a traditional or hybrid edge defender, several schools are keeping track of his talent. Georgia, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Penn State have recently inquired about the prospect in addition to the schools in the mix for some time now.
"The main schools right now are Michigan State, Michigan and Alabama as we've visited each multiple times and have good relationships with the staffs," Malone said. "But, when Saban calls for you, that carries some weight. Based off what Corey has said, he just talked about what he likes at each school. That's sort of how we are approaching it because he's just a freshman. It's too early to look for issues with schools. Only focus on positives and ‘Bama has a lot.
"Things are heating up, it's just a matter of time before the first official offer comes."
Below is footage from Malone-Hatcher's 2013 season.
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