"We didn't get a chance to make it to the game on Friday because I got sick,” Malone-Hatcher’s father told The Michigan Insider. “We didn't come out until Saturday morning. So we watched the game from home. We had a chance to watch and keep our eyes on a couple of players. We watched (Carlo) Kemp to kind of see how he was being used and we also wanted to watch Winovich and see how he was being used."
What they saw was encouraging. Both players were getting after the quarterback, and that's what new defensive coordinator Don Brown would task Malone-Hatcher with doing.
“He basically was just telling (Corey), ‘be ready to rush the passer,’” Mr. Malone regarding Brown. “That was kind of the basic take away. And then I got a chance to talk with him for a little bit and that was kind of his message to me too. ‘Hey, that's his gift. His gift is rushing the passer.’ So they want to try to put him in position to be able to do that and maximize his talents."
"He said, ‘you've got to come back up so we can have an opportunity to sit down and (talk more).’ That's what we're planning on doing so we can have more time to sit down and go through things. But the thing I saw from the spring game, out of the plays Kemp was doing, I saw him standing and with a hand down. “
That’s exactly the kind of versatility Malone-Hatcher was hoping to see. He became enamored with the idea after being courted as a “BUCK” for former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin’s scheme after his positive experience playing linebacker for his high school team. While the return visit will allow Brown the chance to flesh out more of the details in his scheme, what he has already seen and heard has been really encouraging.
"When they say 'end' a lot of people automatically assume that's naturally defensive end," Mr. Malone stated. "The way Mattison described it to us (was different). We actually had a chance to watch film with him as he was describing to all of the guys at junior day Saturday. He was describing how he rotates. ‘Every three plays I want to put a fresh four in. You go in, you give me your three plays as far as you can go and I want to put the next set in.’ What he said to Corey was in this package he could be down, and in a different package he's up. Basically he said there's probably more packages up in this set than the ‘BUCK’ (in Durkin’s defense) has.”
When Mattison was handed off from Mattison to Jim Harbaugh, the conversation shifted completely away from X’s and O’s.
"Predominantly for him he was talking about how the recruiting class was shaping up,” Mr. Malone stated. He was the one that was doing the sales job, the more hardcore sales job of, 'we kind of really need to get this done (because) we know that you want to enroll early. There wouldn't be an issue with being able to do that.' He was doing the more sales pitch."
Harbaugh got closer to completing the sale, but they aren’t there yet. The comfort with Brown’s scheme is on the rise, and that appears to be the key to the Wolverines’ chances.
"They're still definitely up there as one of his favorites,” said Mr. Malone. “He's always had great experiences with Michigan, he loves Harbaugh, loves Coach Mattison, loves Coach Mattison's wife, and it has always been a real loving experience there. He's always said he could see himself playing there, so Michigan is definitely in good position. We just keep working through everything. I don't see them sliding down or falling anywhere."
That said, there are certainly programs trying to leap frog the Maize & Blue, and Malone-Hatcher plans to get out to see many of them in the coming weeks.
"The ones that he already has mentioned is Michigan State on Friday (April 8th),” said Mr. Malone. “He has been talking to the coach at Wisconsin and they want to talk to him. We want to go get those (visits) in. Then naturally too go back down south. We’re trying to decide if it'll be for a spring game or slightly before or after. Tuscaloosa at some point to hang out with Bo Davis, Coach Tosh (Lupoi) and have them kind of reconfirm, ‘here's what we're thinking, here's how we would use him.’ We've already been to Notre Dame a couple times. Coach (Larry) Johnson is trying to get us to come see them over at Ohio State too."
Once those trips are completed the family discussion about picking a school will intensify.
"I don't think it'll go into the season,” Mr. Malone said. “When we kind of look at it… he's going to finish up in December, so (waiting until the fall to make a decision) is going to require a school to have to do a lot to save a spot for an early enrolled spot. We want to be in a position where it's not an issue for us to do that. He wants to be able to do it so I don't think (a decision) will be in the season. Hopefully over the summer we'll see how conversations are going. Over the next month to five weeks or so we'll see if we need to speed it up."