Malast Stepping Up

Approximately two months ago, when Rutgers captain, fifth year senior and linebacker Brandon Renkart spoke to about a variety of topics, including who he thought was going to be among the next group of players that would serve as captains for the Scarlet Knights.

The first player that Renkart mentioned was fellow linebacker Kevin Malast. While Malast has the ability to be an off the field leader, he is also proving to be one on the field.

In the junior's first season as a starter, he tied the team lead for tackles with 91, including six and a half for a loss.

The past month has been used a mini-training camp where a lot of scout team players have had a chance to show the coaching staff how far they have come. During this time period, Malast has enjoyed working with the younger players on the team and helping them be better players.

When Rutgers goes against Ball State in the International Bowl, it will mark the end of the season and the last game for the RU seniors. Starting with spring practice, Malast will become the veteran leader of the linebacker core. "I am thrilled to be in the position I am at right now," Malast said. "We are using this game to propel us into next year. Next year is real exciting, I will but the oldest out of all of the linebackers. I am looking to lead and I feel I can do that." Malast has enjoyed the process and is looking forward to getting a jumpstart on next season by trying and picking up a victory in Toronto. Rutgers lost its regular season finale to Louisville 41-38. The team would like to erase the memory of the loss by sending the seniors like Renkart out with a win and enjoy the bowl trip. "Any bowl opportunity is a chance of a lifetime," Malast said. "It is real exciting. I can't wait to see Toronto..." The Scarlet Knights will travel to Toronto on New Year's Day and prepare to play Ball St. on Jan. 5 after a couple of practices during the week. Malast and his teammates understand the challenges that the Cardinals provide. "Their quarterback is one of the best quarterbacks we have seen all year," Malast said. "They have a great receiver that catches everything and a great tight end too. We are just preparing as much as we can, practicing real hard, and hopefully we will be ready."

The practices has been hard and more numerous than normal with Rutgers playing after the New Year's Day. RU Head Coach Greg Schiano mentioned that he felt the players were excited to get up Toronto and end the training camp like feel that the past month has had.

The time between the regular season finale and the bowl game is used as a time to get younger players extra practice time and show coaches how they have improved from the beginning of the season. Also, it allows upperclassmen with a chance to hit the weight room more and enhance their physical skills. "It was real good for the team to get better," Malast said. "It is a great opportunity to get better. I think we used it to the best of our abilities and now we are getting ready to go up there and win a game." Now that bags are packed and the travel arrangements are made, the players are excited about heading north to play their final game of the season.

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