Malik Reaves is one of the most talented defensive backs in FCS football. At 6-0, 200 pounds he is physical and can change the game by irritating the opposing offense and making you not even want to throw his way. Villanova has a talented team this year and Reaves is one of the key playmakers …
Leader Johnson: “Reaves Island” … how long has that name been attached to you at Villanova?
Malik Reaves: Ha Ha, since freshman year when the older guys first watched me playing press man.
Leader Johnson: What do you love about Villanova?
Malik Reaves: How much of a brotherhood and family it is. We really all have each other's back through thick and thin and it shows on the field our trust we have.
Leader Johnson: What do you love about the city of Philadelphia?
Malik Reaves: Everything, it's something new to explore every time.
Leader Johnson: You are the definition of a ball hawk. What separates you from any other defensive back in the country - what makes you that guy?
Malik Reaves: I'm competitive as they come and physical as they come. I'm in man coverage 80% of a game and I'm not afraid to press every snap unless it's a certain situation, down and distance. I also love tackling. I think I have the best tackling skills of any corner in the country at any level.
Leader Johnson: Who in the NFL do you model your game after and who in the NFL do you think personifies a perfect corner and why?
Malik Reaves: I model my game after Xavier Rhodes. I just think he's the most similar to me - that being: man coverage, size (both being 205 and above), tackling, and also his competitiveness. The battle with him and OBJ showed it. I think him and Aqib Talib describe a perfect corner.
Leader Johnson: How does the Villanova defense for 2017 look as a whole?
Malik Reaves: The defense hasn't missed a beat. Everyone is leading and everyone is full effort every play. New Cornerbacks coach, Ola Adams, is like a guru for us. I'm learning things I've never even thought to learn. He is definitely a perfect fit for me.
Leader Johnson: There is a lot of talent talent in Florida and you were one of the best coming out of there - how was it growing up in Florida describe Neptune Beach to people who don’t know it and how your parents were an influence in your life?
Malik Reaves: Well, Neptune Beach is a pretty cool area. School was 2 minutes away from the water and in Florida playing football it is a constant battle everyday. Nobody wants to be out done. My parents definitely are a huge influence on everything with football. Never have not had my back. I grew up middle school and high school with just my mom and she showed me all kinds of traits that can better me as a leader and man in general. My dad was in Texas but still was there every step of the way. He's a coach for me as well. He can pick out any flaw I show and let me know how to improve it.
Leader Johnson: How is Joe Trainer to you at leading the defense and how do feel about Mark Ferrante?
Malik Reaves: [Joe Trainer] He is a heck of a guy. He trusts us to do things the right way. It is trust we gained as a defense over time and he allows us to lead and coach each other. Mark Ferrante is a great fit as well. Great guy.
Leader Johnson: What were your numbers last season?
Malik Reaves: My numbers weren’t as big as previous years. I played the entire season with a torn meniscus and also missed two games. I think if someone was to breakdown passes attempted and caught on me they'll be able to so how much of a difference maker I can be. I can take always the best wide receiver or half the field. Whatever the coach wants. I didn't get many passes thrown my way this year.
Leader Johnson: How do you feel about this team as a whole this season with a great recruiting class and new coaching staff and how do you feel about the legendary Andy Talley is his presence still felt in this program?
Malik Reaves: Talley is a GOAT. Best coach I've been with always calm and collected. The new coaches are great fits as well and the team is back and hungrier than ever!
Leader Johnson: Thanks for the time. Malik. Can't wait to see you play!
Malik Reaves: Thank you. Go ‘Nova!