An opportunity to play a style he’s played throughout his high school career was the decisive factor in Collins Malone signing a college football scholarship with Austin Peay.
“Murray State had me as an inside linebacker. I’d have to gain a lot more weight, and I was afraid I was going to get swallowed up by tackles and guards and wouldn’t be able to make a lot of plays,” said the 6-2, 200-pound Malone, who signed during a Wednesday ceremony at Columbia Academy.
“I can play in space at Austin Peay. It’ll be an outside linebacker/safety, hybrid-type position. I’ll be up on the line, but I’ll also be in coverage. They want to get me up to 225 pounds; Murray State was talking about 235-240.”
Rangy and athletic, Malone was a two-way impact player for the Bulldogs through his three years after transferring from Spring Hill. As a senior he caught 40 passes for 573 yards and five touchdowns, all team-leading totals, along with 143 total tackles (17 for loss), five sacks, 16 hurries – team highs as well – an interception, 12 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a recovery while earning Tennessee Sports Writers Association Division II-A all-state honors for a second straight year.
Malone has also played basketball and ran track for Columbia Academy, taking up the latter sport as a junior and placing second in the DII-A 300-meter hurdles at Spring Fling last year.
“He’s been one of the top defensive players for us for three years,” said CA coach Seth Anderson, who previously served as defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs. “With his size, speed and athletic ability, I think he can play multiple positions. It’ll be fun to see what they do with him. He’s got a body and a frame that can be multidimensional.
“He played safety as a sophomore, and the way we played it, our safety was up within eight yards of the ball, almost like a hybrid. Then he’s played linebacker the last two years. So he has experience, and his skillset allows him to play both.”