"He's a good two-way player," Havelock head coach Jim Bob Bryant said. "He could play offensive line or defensive line on the next level. I think he's an offensive lineman on the next level, just because of his movement skills and how quick he can move," Bryant said. "He moves like a skill player, but he's 6-4, 245 [pounds] – he looks bigger than that, but he's only 245. We don't have any fat kids on our team, [because] we run the crap out of them."
As a sophomore, Ashley started on the offensive line while serving a reserve role on the defensive line. He became an exclusive defensive starter as a junior.
"We lost both eastern finals games in the fourth quarter, because some of our key players were going both ways and were just gassed," Bryant said. "So my defensive coordinator just talked me into playing Malcolm one way and starting him on defense. He's probably our best offensive lineman too, but for the betterment of the team we moved him to defense fulltime."
The change in philosophy helped Havelock get over the hump and claim the NCHSAA 3A title in 2011. The game was played at Kenan Stadium.
"It was a great experience, especially being on a big college field," Ashley said. "Winning felt great."
Ashley is a two-time All-Sun Journal All-Area selection – on offense as a sophomore and on defense as a junior.
Prior to his junior season, East Carolina offered Ashley a scholarship.
"When I first found out, I was so happy," Ashley said. "I was so excited. It felt great to get that first offer out of the way."
Additionally, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, North Carolina, NC State, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, and Virginia Tech have expressed interest.
Ashley has attended a football game at South Carolina, a junior day at NC State, and made a couple visits to East Carolina. He'll make his first recruiting visit to UNC this Saturday for the Tar Heels' Junior Day.
Ashley says he doesn't claim any favorite schools, but Bryant expects him to stay close to home.
"I think he wants to stay in-state," Bryant said.
In addition to football, Ashley competes in the shot put and discus for Havelock's track and field team. His personally bests are 42 feet in the shot put and 135 in the discus.