Like most Ohio kids Malik Vann grew up rooting for Ohio State. That meant he had a natural hatred for all things Michigan. That, though, was before the Fairfield high linebacker made his way up to Ann Arbor for the Wolverines’ spring game a few weeks ago.
His view of the Maize & Blue from a recruit’s perspective is much different than the view he had as a fan.
“I've got to do what's best for me so it was a good experience going up there and I really liked it a lot,” Vann said.
"Being at the Big House and 70,000 people for a spring game, that was crazy. And then getting to meet all the top recruits from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 classes… that was real cool too. I really liked that."
As memorable as the game atmosphere was, Vann’s biggest takeaway was his positive interaction with the coaching staff.
"I talked to Coach Harbaugh for a little bit and then Coach Partridge," he said.
"(Harbaugh) was the most fun coach I've ever been around or ever seen. The first thing I saw him do was pull up to the indoor practice facility in a yellow corvette. He proceeded to do a music video. I've never seen that. That coach is the funniest coach I've ever seen in my life!"
"(Partridge) is a really cool guy too. Straight forward with me and just liked my size and my ability. If I continue to grow I'll play defensive line. If I don't I'll be playing linebacker so we'll see."
Vann hasn’t expressed no preference regarding his position at the next level. He plans to let his body and his future team’s needs dictate where he’ll line up, just like he has for his high school team.
"Things went really well (last season),” he said. “I made the transition from linebacker to defensive line. I might be going back to linebacker this year but we don't know yet. I didn't get to finish my whole season last year. I partially tore my PCL, strained my MCL so I was done about week eight. I just came back fully healthy, cleared all the way. I feel great now… ready to get to work."
“I dropped my weight down to 240-pounds. And when I was healthy the fastest I ran was a 4.87."
Thus far Vann has picked up offers from Louisville, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Maryland, West Virginia, and Michigan State. Before all is said and done he hopes the Wolverines and Buckeyes join that list.
“(Michigan) talked to my head coach and he said it could come soon,” Vann stated.
“The offer (from Ohio State) should be coming, but for them I know I'll be playing defensive line. Michigan I know would be for more of a linebacker. Michigan State would probably be defensive end. Cincinnati would be defensive end. (The position) is just hit or miss depending on what the schools are looking for. I can play both so I'll just play whatever they want me to."
Now it’s just a matter of figuring out who “they” is, and Vann plans on take his time doing so.
“I want to go out and visit every school to see what every school has to offer,” he explained. “I don't want to limit myself to one school and then if I go to other places and get swayed. I want to wait until after my officials and probably commit somewhere."
“(My top five is) Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and probably Pitt. I really like Coach Narduzzi."
“(The decision will come down to) graduation rate, success of the team, where I feel like is most at home, and where I feel like I can most likely succeed."