Josh Malone exploded on the scene as a sophomore in 2011, blowing up for more than 200 yards and three scores in the opener for Station Camp (Gallatin, Tenn.) High School. He rode that fast start to a great season.
“He kind of burst on the scene as a sophomore and people weren’t ready for him,” Station Camp head coach Shaun Hollinsworth said.
Things wouldn’t come as easy as a junior, but he still managed to put together another impressive season.
“People were much more prepared the second year for him and it’s difficult,” Hollinsworth said. “The thing I tried to tell him is, ‘You need to understand when people are doing that, teams are giving up something else and we need to take advantage of that to make teams pay to make them honor somebody else.'
“Sometimes it’s hard in high school, but when you get to the college level, most of the times you’ll have somebody beside you who is as good or better, which makes teams play a little bit more honest.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder will definitely have the chance to see what it’s like on the college level as he already holds offers from schools like Notre Dame, Tennessee, LSU, Ohio State, South Carolina, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss and several others.
“He just has all of the tools it takes to play at that level,” his coach said. “He has the height, he has the speed, he has the athleticism. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out too quickly. You have to have the tools first, but now he just needs to sharpen his skills.”
Malone, who runs in the 4.5-range, will have plenty of opportunities to sharpen his skills against the best next season.
“Fortunately for him, he plays in a very competitive district here in the state of Tennessee,” Hollinsworth said. “It’s one of the top ones in the state. We’re at the highest classification at 6A. He’s going to face good players like that with speed on a weekly basis on your schedule. He’ll definitely be able to face some good competition.”
Even with all of the attention directed at him, Station Camp does all it can to let him have an impact on the game.
“We try to get him to touch the ball as many times as we can,” said Hollinsworth. “We try to throw it his way, hope protection holds up, hope it’s a good throw and then he’s got to make the catch from there. We try to run him on sweeps on the perimeter, get him back in the Wildcat and those kinds of things just to have him touch the ball and help the team move the football.”
Malone definitely has the size to be an outside guy at the next level, but Hollinsworth believes he has the skill set to play in the slot as well.
“I think so,” the coach said. “We move him around in the slot. We try to move him around in different spots with motion and things. He’s going to get bracketed wherever he goes. He’s always going to have two, sometimes it might be three.”
Hollinsworth is also impressed with Malone’s character.
“He’s a great kid,” said the coach. “You’re not going to find a better kid. Not only is he a great guy, he’s a good student. Station Camp High School is glad to have him.
“Our team wants guys with good character. I tell the coaches who come in here, ‘I wouldn’t tell you he’s a good kid if I didn’t think he was.’ He has all of those attributes. He’s a well-mannered, quiet young man with a great family. I’m happy for him and I hope he is happy wherever he decides to go.”
Notre Dame is one of the schools that has been coming after Malone hard.
“Most of the schools that have been around seem to be in on him pretty hard,” Hollinsworth said. “He doesn’t talk much openly about who he likes and who he doesn’t like. I think he’s pretty wide open and is going to wait and see where the recruiting process takes him.”
He doesn’t have a firm timeline for a decision, but it’s unlikely the process will go to National Signing Day.
“I think there’s been some talk about him graduating early,” his coach said. “That’s not 100 percent for sure. My gut is that he would like to go ahead and get there early and start competing early.”
Malone has made a trip to Notre Dame this summer and could make another before making a decision.
“He’s been up there once already and I think he’ll probably end up going back there again,” Hollinsworth said. “He’s gone somewhere just about every week, so he stays pretty busy.”