2017 DE builds relationships
Last month the sophomore defensive end from St. Joseph, Mich., added a scholarship offer from the Irish during a junior day visit. Malone-Hatcher came back knowing South Bend had a realistic shot of being his college home, focusing more on the relationships being built.
“I’m not worried about the coaches,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I know they’re good coaches and they’re going to be able to teach me. I’m not really worried about position-wise coaching. The thing I want to see is how the players interact with the coaches, what type of relationship they have. That’s what is really important to me.
“I don’t have any doubts in my mind that I’ll be able to develop athletically. I just wanna make sure that I’ll have a rapport with the coaches that’s personal.”
Malone-Hatcher watched from the stands with several other prospects as Notre Dame went through its final scrimmage of the spring practice period.
Quarterbacks were live in the first half and the defense registered three sacks total plus 14 tackles-for-loss. Malone-Hatcher focused on the defensive ends and outside linebackers as they got after the quarterbacks.
He also paid attention to how coaches went about their business.
“We spent a lot of time with the coaches and were able to see how they acted in a game situation,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I think they did a really good job. The scrimmage was really live. They didn’t make sure the quarterbacks weren’t getting hit or anything. They were playing football. So, it was a really good experience to see some live action. Everybody was excited and getting hyped up. It was definitely worth the visit.”
Malone-Hatcher reconnected with recruiting coordinator Mike Elston and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore afterward. They assessed the defensive line group moving forward.
“Talking to the coaching staff after, they don’t really have the guys in the position right now to run the scheme they put in for this year,” Malone-Hatcher said. “They’re still trying to adapt. But they played focused and they were working hard. They have some athletes at the defensive end/outside linebacker position, people who put their hand down that weren’t necessarily recruited to do that kind of thing all the time. They’re definitely on a learning curve right now but I can see they’re focused and motivated. That’s good to see.”
Over the next few weeks Malone-Hatcher plans to continue sharpening his own skills as the camp circuit and spring evaluation period begins.
He plans to participate in the upcoming NIKE Football Opening Regional outside Chicago in hopes of growing a recruiting profile that already includes scholarship offers from Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee.
Malone-Hatcher wants to show observers another side to his game.
“Really everybody has known me as a pretty good athlete but also as a nice guy,” he said. “I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. I just never wanted to upset anybody. But I’ve learned since last year that sometimes you’ve gotta be nasty to get people’s attention. That’s what I’m starting to develop. I’m still nice. I’m polite and everything. But when it comes to game time it’s time to go get it.”