Morgantown’s Malone Accepts Walk-on Offer To WVU
Morgantown High offensive lineman Nick Malone could have fretted about the Power 5 scholarship that evaporated, but instead he decided to look at the opportunity to stay home as a blessing.
On Wednesday Malone committed to West Virginia’s football program as an invited walk-on. Last summer he accepted a scholarship offer from Pitt after attending the Panthers’ camp, but as the fall progressed, the interest from Pat Narduzzi and his staff fizzled.
“It was a difficult time, but I just had to grind through it,” admitted Malone. “In the end, I think it worked out best for me. I get to stay home and play for a program I grew up following.”
Pitt was Malone’s only FBS offer, but he did have scholarship opportunities from the junior college level all the way up to FCS programs. Instead of taking a scholarship to one of those schools, Malone decided to walk on at WVU.
“No offense to those teams, but I’ve always wanted to play at a higher level,” said Malone. “I think I’m a Division I caliber player.”
His high school head coach agreed with him.
“Obviously he has DI talent,” said Morgantown head coach Matt Lacy. “It’s unfortunate the scholarship offer at Pitt fell through, but as soon as he didn’t sign there, I had multiple schools calling me.
“You can’t coach what he has,” added Lacy. “He’s 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds and can move like he does. He’s an offensive tackle who can move like a tight end. You can’t coach that.”
Lacy said Malone’s frame will easy hold another 30 or 40 pounds, and Nick realizes adding weight and strength will be important as he makes the transition to college.
“I do have to get bigger, but that shouldn’t be a problem now that I’m not playing basketball,” noted Malone, who was also a two-year starter on the hardwood for the Mohigans.
A second-team Class AAA honoree this past season in football, Malone was used at a variety of positions by Lacy. Normally an offensive tackle, he moved to tight end late in the season. While he was typically a blocker there, he did catch two passes for 36 yards. In addition, Malone was a fixture in Morgantown’s defensive line the past couple of years as well. He had 25 tackles, six of which were for lost yardage, in 2018.
Malone’s athletic ability also was evident on the basketball court, where he manned the middle for the 16-10 Mohigans’ who advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class AAA state tournament. He averaged 10 points and eight rebounds on the year.
“Basketball was always my second favorite sport,” said Nick, who is interested in majoring in architecture at WVU. “Basketball was a great way of staying in shape, and it really helped my footwork. Basketball also gave me a chance to play on travel teams with my friends. I enjoyed it a lot, but football has always been my favorite.”
Shortly after Neal Brown and his staff took over West Virginia’s football program, they began a dialogue with Malone. Mountaineer offensive line coach Matt Moore invited him to spring practice, and eventually Nick accepted their walk-on offer.