Coach's Corner: Ben Malena

Yet another prospect who Coach Sherman pulled in from an established, winning High School is running back Ben Malena. Websider visits with Cedar High Head Coach Joey McGuire about the prospect and his offseason, his commitment, and his future at Texas A&M.

You've had a lot of good backs come through the program, what are some things that Ben Malena does that separates him from some of his peers at that position?

"It's probably three things. Number one is his vision, he can see the holes and the plays he needs to make, and he's always looking for that crease. Second is his work in the weight room. He's been in there really focused on getting stronger and bigger, and he probably is up to 205 pounds right now, so his dedication to that will help him a lot. Number three is just his speed, and it's what gets him all that attention. He's fast."

Was the weight room bulking up something Coach Sherman told him to focus on, or was that more of something he is doing on his own.

"No, you know I'm sure they want him stronger and faster and all that, but this is really something he's done on his own, it has been a progression ever since he's been young. People have known about Ben Malena forever. He had a great seventh grade year, a great eighth grade year, and people have been waiting for him to get into high school. Freshman year, he had 25 touchdowns in 8 games, and then he got hurt, and he's never had a completely healthy year. Sophomore year we put him on varsity, and he had 157 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first game, but just couldn't stay healthy. I think he was at 175 pounds or something then."

"Ever since then, he's really made a commitment to working out to get his weight up, eating right, and doing all the other things you need to do to stay healthy, and then this past year he played in 14 games plus the scrimmage with no injuries. It's paid off for him and that's why I think he's been so good about doing that on his own."

Since he's had eyes on him for so long, is he one of the guys who does better under pressure?

"He is definitely a guy who gets into it and really excels under pressure. He is one of my team captains, so he is a leader on the team but overall he is a pretty quiet guy, but when we get out there and there is a big situation he wants the ball, and he'll let you know it too. He's great under pressure."

What is the main thing he needs to work on for the next level?

"There isn't really anything he needs to fix, so I'd just say he needs to stay on course. If he keeps everything on the path he's on right now, he's going to be great and have an impact right away. He's not going into a situation not knowing how to pass block, or not knowing a complicated system, or anything like that, so he should be fine and there's nothing in particular he needs to focus on."

A&M is a school that has been known lately for his depth at running back. Is he used to having some competition at his position, and is he worried or excited about having the same competition at A&M?

"All I know is, whoever else is coming up in the same class or who is already there or whatever needs to watch out for Ben. He's going to bring it. He was going to play in the state championship game as a freshman, when we had seniors there and everything before he got hurt, so he knows what it's like. We've got a good program here, and I've had guys transfer schools away from us, because they didn't want to have to compete with him. He loves that atmosphere, so he's not going to sit back and let someone have their turn; he's going to push everyone."

How excited is he to be an Aggie?

"He's very, excited. One of the first things I do when I hear any word; when so-and-so coach calls me and says they are going to offer a player is I call their dad, and when I called him he said ‘We've been waiting on that one.' Soon after that they were able to commit and I know he's really happy. I remember they came and talked to me and they told me that they are excited to go to a place where the tailback is still important. Where he's not just going to be asked to be a decoy and maybe get a ball thrown to him in the flat, but where they are actually going to make him and that position one of the focuses of the offense."

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