During the summer months, Hampton (Ga.) Lovejoy wide receiver and return man Malik Route proceeded to land offers from various programs of the FCS and Division II nature. That all changed after week one of the 2016 season, though, when Route exploded for a 99-yard kickoff return and 11 catches for over 100 yards in his team’s opening contest.
With such a prolific entrance to his senior season, Route picked up a scholarship offer from Army shortly thereafter. It came so quickly that the Georgia athlete was not expecting such news at this point in the season.
“It came out of nowhere,” Route said. “It came out after practice. It was a surprise.”
With the offer’s recency as a prevailing factor at the moment, Route recognizes that he needs to explore more about the Army program as a whole before he can weigh in further on the school.
“I have to do my research,” Route said. “My and my coaches were talking after practice about it.”
More research may include an official visit to campus so that the 5-foot-7, 165-pound speedster can get a first hand feel for what the future might hold for him at West Point. He will have to think about how the Army team stacks up against those of his other offers as well.
“It’s been going good,” Route said. “I just picked up an offer today from Army, but I have seven offers so far. Mercer, Western Carolina, SAM-U, Elon, West Georgia and one more I can’t think of right now.”
On the field, Route brings a dynamic talent due to his cutting ability, open-field vision and low center of gravity. Lovejoy uses Route as both a slot returner and a kick and punt return specialist, and his status as one of the team’s top big-play threats showed early on this year already.
“We had our first game Friday,” Route said. “It went real good. We won 53-50. It was crazy going against our rivals too.”
The quick, versatile athlete said he applied himself in many of the areas that showed on the field during his senior opener.
“I worked on a lot of stuff in the offseason,” Route said. “Mostly I worked on my first step being quick and explosive, and it helped tremendously because I was able to pull away from people and separate.”
On the college level, Route sees himself as a player most likely to see the field in the return game. That is where most of his collegiate attention is coming from as of now, but Route said he feels as if he can contribute in many different areas.
“I would break my game down like you could put me anywhere — inside, outside, running back, special teams — it doesn’t matter because I’m a versatile player,” Route said. “Anywhere you need me I can pretty much play.”
Route says he can play anywhere on the field, and he also believes he could play anywhere in the country, quickly dismissing the notion that location could play a role in his recruitment.
“Oh, no,” Route rebuked. “It doesn’t matter. Academics, where I’ll be out of school [with education]. That’s really my main thing. I want to major in sports medicine, and I took human anatomy and didn’t really like it. So, I have no idea right now.”
During the next few months while the college football season rages on, Route says he would like to visit “any” ACC school or perhaps a program from out West.