GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In one last tune up before the start of the 2015 season, Grand Rapids Christian hosted a four-team scrimmage on its home field with Grand Rapids West Catholic, St. Joseph and Haslett in attendance.
St. Joseph defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher stole the show—in a scrimmage, at that— exhibiting great versatility and athleticism for a 6’3”, 245-pound athlete coming off of a dominant offseason.
In an effort to keep creative plans under wraps, though, many teams kept the playbook tight last night. St. Joseph, for example, declined to use Malone-Hatcher at his natural defensive end position. In fact, it was up in the air whether the four-star pass rusher would even play defense at all on Friday night.
Malone-Hatcher did what he was called on to do and he often did it will. Like last year, Malone-Hatcher played a good deal of inside linebacker for the Bears. In the first matchup against West Catholic, Malone-Hatcher registered a powerful tackle for loss, stuffing a run attempt headed his way in the middle.
With offers from Alabama, Michigan, and Notre Dame among others, Malone-Hatcher is a high level prospect on the recruiting trail. That much is no secret. What many might not know is that Malone-Hatcher can get the job done on offense as well. Lined up at tight end, Malone-Hatcher made the most of a one-on-one matchup with a safety, first making a tough one-handed snag and then running away for roughly a 35-yard touchdown.
Apart from those moments, not much could be gleaned from Friday’s scrimmage. Malone-Hatcher recorded a nice sack during the contest and that should continue with numbing regularity this fall.
Malone-Hatcher made a few big plays with his size and strength, but another prospect—Grand Rapids Christian’s Jordan Smith—stood out thanks to an explosive first step and elusiveness that resulted in several touchdowns.
“I just try to play fast and try to beat my opponents” Smith told Today’s U. “I know that most people I play won’t be able to catch me if I get to the edge, so I just try to get to the edge, make a few moves and try to get through to the end zone.”
Smith, who also stars for the GRC track team, stands at 5’6” and 160-pounds. His diminutive stature often prevents defenders from locating Smith as he bounces from gap to gap in the backfield. Smith used this to his advantage often on the day, making one cut and then bursting up the field for several large gains of positive yardage.
Smith took his game-breaking talent on the road this summer, visiting various football camps across the state, including at nearby Division Two power Grand Valley State.
“I went to Grand Valley for a camp there and I did pretty good there,” said Smith. “I’m hoping to get more looks from them as the season goes on. They told me that I was really fast, they liked my 40-time and that I did pretty well with the running backs. Stuff like that.”
Apart from GVSU, Smith is taking his time and evaluating several other colleges that could pose a potential fit for the electric running back.
Check out Smith’s highlight reel on Hudl
“I want to talk to a few schools out of state because that’s where I want to go,” said Smith. “But some schools I’ve been thinking about like Eastern [Michigan], Central [Michigan], Grand Valley, Ball State and just in the Ohio area because it’s kind of close to home but it’s not in-state.”
After his dominating performance in the scrimmage on Friday, Smith spoke with Today’s U regarding his upcoming senior season and what he hopes to accomplish as a part of the Eagles’ 2015 squad.
“It’s been going pretty good,” said Smith. “We’ve been working really hard in the summer with conditioning and lifting. We had a few camps where we had to clean a few things up, but we should be pretty good.”
Last year the Eagles finished with a bit of an underwhelming 6-5 record overall. Smith, who is shooting for 1,000 all-purpose yards this season, is hoping for a more successful campaign this fall.
“I think we should be pretty good,” said Smith. “Our first game shouldn’t be very much of a challenge, but the week after that we have Muskegon and Zeeland after that, so we have a pretty tough schedule but I think we should be good.”
Grand Rapids Christian opens its season with a non-conference bout against Grand Rapids South Christian High School on August 28. Malone-Hatcher and the St. Joseph Bears will begin the 2015 season against Kalamazoo Central on the same day.