Instead of continuing to play his junior season and potentially exposing himself to long-term health problems, Saint Joseph (MI) High defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher made the difficult decision to have season-ending ankle surgery that effectively wiped out his 2015 year. As a result, he was preparing to not be a popular person on the recruiting trail.
He was pleasantly surprised.
“I figured (the injury) would have a negative impact on my recruiting, but it’s really funny how it worked out,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I’ve picked up a ton of new interest from elite-level schools.”
Already having offers from Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame Ohio State and others before his junior season, the 6-2, 225-pound Malone-Hatcher now holds over two dozen offers and more interest continues to roll in.
“The recruiting process has gone on for so long,” he said, “but it’s still fun to be honest because there are so many new schools I haven’t looked at.”
Malone-Hatcher had already visited Wisconsin last fall for its game against Rutgers, a miserable October weekend with rain, wind and cold. Things were much different over the weekend with temps in the low 80s as he toured the campus and watched Wisconsin’s 12th spring practice.
“It was awesome,” Malone-Hatcher said. “The campus is amazing. It’s beautiful. You have great views everywhere you look. It doesn’t have a huge city feel, which is a good thing for me because I come from a small city. The coaching staff was extremely welcoming. They had a lot of good things to say about my game. Everything was really good this time.”
Tight end coach Mickey Turner is the main recruiter for Malone-Hatcher, but he calls that an unfair label because a majority of the Wisconsin coaching staff keeps in touch with him through social media. During his campus visit, Malone-Hatcher spent time with Turner, watched film with outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar, talked at length with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and even got to watch parts of the practice with athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Already rated the No.24 defensive end in the country by Scout.com, the four-star Malone-Hatcher, who is rated the No.287 overall prospect in the country, is being pursued by the Badgers as a havoc-creating outside linebacker.
“They put a whole video together for me on how I would fit into their scheme with zone coverage, man coverage, run defense, pass rush and broke down all the technique for me,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I noticed that nothing I would be asked to do was anything I wasn’t capable of doing. I can definitely see why they are recruiting me at the position, and I just feel comfortable with me being at the position. They said I was the main guy they wanted for that position in the class and I can see why. I would fit pretty well in that scheme.”
While the assistant coaches went heavy on the x’s and o’s with him, Malone-Hatcher said his conversation with head coach Paul Chryst was personal.
“The direction of the conversation we had was more about campus life, myself, what I like to do, what I plan to major in, stuff like that,” Malone-Hatcher said. “He was telling about himself and his dad. I had a lot of fun getting to know him better.”
While believing he has an offer from the school he will eventually commit to, Malone-Hatcher debunks the opinion that he is a strong lean to Michigan or even a silent commit. While acknowledging he could commit before the start of his senior season, Malone-Hatcher is committed to taking his official visits in the fall.
“I was extremely impressed at Wisconsin and will definitely be getting back out there,” Malone-Hatcher said. “I haven’t set a time frame yet with my coaches or my parents, but I’ll definitely be getting back out there. The opportunity to play at that linebacker position and make plenty of plays in that defense is extremely intriguing to me.
“I’ve been getting that (commitment talk) a lot with the Michigan thing. I love their coaching staff and have been there a lot, but I’ve also been to Notre Dame a lot and had just as great of a time. There are some great atmospheres – like Penn State – where I haven’t been yet and they still keep in contact with me, but they haven’t been mentioned in my recruitment because people just assume I’m going to Michigan.
“I keep getting questions about whether I’m a silent commit. I’m not a silent commit. I don’t have anything to hide. When I commit, I’ll let people know because at that point I’ll be trying to be a leader in the class and get players to come with me.”