Passionate, devout, thoughtful and serious, Derrick Malone goes by the handle "Poetic Soul" Twitter.
He's twice made All-PAC-12 Academic Honorable Mention, and says his goal is to be both an All-American and an Academic All-American. In 2012 he won the team's Gordon E. Wilson Award as the top special teams performer. "I'm passionate about football," Malone said, in a video he made with Oregon Athletic Department film staff. "Football is my tool for self-discovery."
Derrick Malone chases down Russell Wilson in the 2012 Rose Bowl.Analysts and pundits who downgrade the Oregon linebackers fail to consider that Nick Aliotti's "hockey line change" defense has put this year's group in key situations in big games all through their careers as reserves. They're ready. Note Malone's arm, ripping at the ball. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America)
Last season he had 41 tackles as a reserve, third among linebackers, with 9 tackles against Colorado and six each against Washington and Arizona State. Malone has terrific athleticism and good speed at 6-2, 212. He's a former high school safety and running back from Colton High School in Colton, California.
As a Yellow Jacket, Derrick was First Team All-CIF and offensive MVP in the San Andreas League. The team went 11-2 as he rushed for 1501 yards and 19 touchdowns, 10.96 yards per carry. In track he ran the 100 meters in 10.9, the 200 in 22.0, the 400 in 49 seconds flat.
Malone also carried a 3.3 G.PA., and he won the Ken Hubbs Award as the community's most outstanding student-athlete and leader, one of two students selected each year from the greater Long Beach/San Bernadino area. His high school coach Richard Strauss told Jay Kitchen of the Precinct Reporter that Derrick was one of the best athletes he'd every coached in a long career at the school, and that included Shareece Wright and Allen Bradford of USC, now with the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawkss respectively.
“He is so humble. He did not know how good he could be," Strauss said of Malone. "He developed and when the scouts found out about him, he still did not know what the big deal was.”
Now a junior inside linebacker for the Ducks, he had offers from Nebraska, Utah, Arizona and ASU as a prep, rated a 3-star prospect by Rivals. At Oregon he's become a warrior in the weight room and a diligent student of film, in addition to excelling in the classroom with a major in Journalism with a minor in Advertising.
Evaluating the linebackers as a group, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti told Ryan Thorburn of the Register-Guard, "Our D-line and our secondary are playing outstanding," Aliotti said. "Our linebackers are growing as we go. I think we're getting better. We have some experience on the outside. The inside is where we need to develop some depth and maturity scheme-wise."
Derrick definitely has the maturity. Aliotti and linebackers coach Don Pellum also like his effort level and persistence, the way he fills holes and moves as a former high school running back. Recovered from an injury that kept him out of spring practice, he's in heavy rotation on the inside along with Joe Walker, Rahim Cassell and Rodney Hardrick. The depth and versatility in the group will allow them to make a full effort on every play and stay healthier in a five-month campaign to win the PAC-12, and maybe a bigger prize.
Great article Dale, I appreciate that your articles let us know more about who the athletes are that we cheer for on Saturday's. We have some great guys with quality character on this Ducks team and it's great to hear more about them. In response to Duckbill saying Malone is too small, I trust Aliotti to put guys in a position to succeed. Also thanks to Coach Radcliffe's genius with building up strength in our players I am confident Malone is a finely tuned machine!
@theduckforpresident DFP--I appreciate it, thank you. The player profiles are my favorite posts to write, particularly for this team where they are such outstanding people.
@Duckbill He's undersized, but so was Michael Clay. Be interesting to see how Malone, Walker and their mates hold up against Tennessee's big line, and later in the year, Stanford's.
Part x's and o's and part execution, I think.
Scott Frost said the other day in an interview that Chip was a master at having a counter to every counter, switching up the read defender or giving the defense one more thing to handle.
Chris Brown of Grantland had a detailed analysis of the elements of Kelly's success in an article he wrote last November: