When Temescal Canyon punter Tom Malone attended the USC skills camp last month he had yet to receive a scholarship offer from the Trojans but that changed quickly after he put on an impressive display while averaging 49 yards per kick with a 4.7 hang time.
"They had been recruiting me for a while but it really picked up in the spring," said Malone. "I sent them a tape and then went to the one day camp and had a pretty good day. After that I went and met with Coach Carroll, Oregon and Pola and they offered me a scholarship but I didn't accept right then because that was my first day on campus and I hadn't had time to look around. I was really impressed with Pete Carroll, I think he is an amazing coach. He is just a great guy and real easy to talk to. I also like the fact that USC has a full time special teams coach and I think I am going to be able to learn a lot from a coach like Kennedy Pola. I really like him a lot. About a week later I came up and met with an engineering professor and took a tour of the campus. I just fell in love with the school and I went and told Coach Carroll I wanted to be a Trojan."
The smile on Carroll's face must have been a mile wide when he heard that news because he is getting a punter that many are calling the best in the nation. Malone averaged 42 yards per punt last season after missing the first 3 games with an injury to his left (plant) foot and despite the injury he was named All CIF and All League. To show college coaches that he was completely healed from his injury, Tom taped one of his spring workouts which showed him kicking 30 balls at an average of 48 yards per punt. He is known for his terrific leg strength which combines with a tremendous work ethic to make him a punter who can serve as a major weapon.
"My high school coach (Bob Burt) is always talking about how field position is everything in a football game and how the punter can play a big part in winning that battle," said Malone. "If both teams have a 3 and out series then the punters will help determine the advantage in field position."
Tom had actually been spotted by the Trojan coaches heading into his sophomore year while they were recruiting Nate Goodson and when it came time for his senior season the Trojans and Coach Pete Carroll were joined by schools across the country in pursuing his services.
"I went to a one day camp at Washington because my grandparents live up there and my family has been Husky fans for 40 years," said Malone. "Arizona had offered and Stanford told me I would be offered as soon as I was admitted but I'm really happy with my decision to attend USC. My parents live here and I have a lot of relatives and friends who will be able to see me play and I will also be getting a great education. I'll work as hard as anyone on the team and be totally committed and dedicated to being the best punter I can be for my four years in college but USC is offering me an opportunity to be successful for a lifetime."
Malone is a true student athlete who spent part of his summer attending Boy's State in Sacramento, a program designed to give students a look at how government works. He has a 4.4 GPA while taking AP classes throughout high school and a 1,200 SAT score and will look to graduate early to enroll at USC in time for spring practice.
"It's going to be really good to adjust to campus and the classes and to just be a part of the team. With the punting job open it will be important to go through spring ball and the summer workouts."
Malone is an excellent athlete who holds the school record in the 200m and at the Nike Camp he ran the 40 in 4.50, the shuttle in 4.15 and had a 35.4 vertical. He grew up with basketball as his favorite sport and only went out for the freshman football team because some of his friends were playing. He had been an OL/DL in his only year of Pop Warner but began to take punting seriously after hitting a 70 yard punt in one freshman game and with a chance to be a sophomore starter on the varsity he attended kicking camps to improve his technique. Tom eventually began working with former ASU punter Marcus Williams on everything from hang time to taking the right steps to proper stretching. He will handle the placekicking and kickoff chores this season and says he would have no problem doing kickoffs for the Trojans but at this point he will concentrate on punting.