Last summer Malone-Hatcher, now a junior defensive end from St. Joseph, Mich., attended the first Invasion as an up-and-coming regional prospect. This time he worked out with an offer in hand.
Malone-Hatcher spent Friday night working alongside new Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and competing against some other top targets.
“It was really cool,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I’m not sure but I’m pretty certain that’s going to be their biggest recruiting event of the year. You could tell the effort and the planning. They’ve been thinking about it for a while and they executed it perfectly. It was a great showcase for academics and athletics and coaching abilities. We only had a certain amount of time but we took a lot of tips and technique home to work on. It was really a lot of fun working with a lot of the top guys in the country. I really appreciated the opportunity.”
Malone-Hatcher spent most of Friday on campus before the event even got started, going through an experience similar to a junior day.
Coaches and support staff guided prospects around campus, talked about academics, showed off the football facilities and put together a panel with current players.
Around 8 p.m. the field work started. Malone-Hatcher got hands on with Gilmore for the first time.
“From the first conversation I had with coach Gilmore you get a very good read of him,” Malone-Hatcher said. “He’s just really open. He doesn’t have anything to hide. It’d be hard to tell you a new thing that I got from him. I worked with him and saw his coaching style is fast and intense but at the same time, just like the visit, he doesn’t rush. He makes sure you get the points down you need to get down and maintains the intensity level.”
Malone-Hatcher headed home after the Invasion, then returned Saturday for the big man camp. Gilmore and the rest of the staff didn’t require him to work out Saturday, but asked Malone-Hatcher if he would like to hang around and teach some other campers.
“They had me working with a lot of the kids that were there giving them some decent looks,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I worked with them on getting their hips flipped and making sure they used their club efficiently. I was helping them prep for the one-on-ones. They had some dogs for the o-linemen with Tommy Kraemer and Liam (Eichenberg) and all those. They put in a lot of work.”
The Irish, Wolverines and Spartans have all offered the 6-foot-3, 225-pound prospect. Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee have done the same.
“I feel like I know a lot about Michigan,” he said. “I know a lot about Notre Dame. I need to learn more about Michigan State. I haven’t been able to get down there as much recently. I went to one game down there last year and it was the Ohio State game. The year before that I went to like six or seven of them. It gets more chaotic in my recruitment and I’ve had a lot more schools to check out, so I haven’t been able to get to Michigan State. I plan on getting back down there to further those relationships.
“I’m really comfortable with Michigan and really comfortable with Notre Dame. I’m also really comfortable with Penn State and the coaching staff even though I’ve only been there once. They come to my school so my dad sits down and talks to them and he kinda relays that information.”
Now that camp season is nearing its completion, Malone-Hatcher will likely take a short break from recruiting rather than stay on the road with unofficial visits. Regardless, he wants to keep his recruitment open.
“I think at this point we’ll continue to talk about it,” Malone-Hatcher said. “Things keep getting busier and busier, so we could cut it down and make a top five or top eight or something like that. But I think for now we’re just enjoying the process. I’m kinda starting to get that image of what I want in a school and can start to apply that to what I’ve seen.”