Alex Malzone always knew the University of Michigan.
From the time he was 4, the Birmingham Brother Rice quarterback visited the school many times, attending games and recently taking unofficial visits with other recruits.
But only in the past few months did Malzone realize that U-M wanted him nearly as much, leading up to his Monday commitment for the 2015 recruiting class.
U-M offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier came to see him throw a few weeks ago, and that accelerated the process.
“He told me his interest in me and he was impressed and how he was looking forward to today,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Malzone said. “I wanted to get it wrapped up just as much as they did. So I decided to commit.”
Grabbing a quarterback is always a significant moment in a recruiting class, and it becomes the pivot point that the rest of the group builds around. Malzone said the Wolverines told him that he would be the only QB they take in 2015, and Malzone’s style as a traditional pocket passer is indicative of the pro-style offense Nussmeier desires.
“I went up to spring practice while they were in spring season,” Malzone said. “I sat in on a QB meeting and got coached live. In season, I’ll be coached. They blow the whistle, but it never stops. When they stop doing one drill, they’re on to the next one. I like that.
“He demands a lot out of his players and gets the best out of them that he can. That’s another thing. Coach Nussmeier’s a great coach, he’s had great success everywhere he went and that’s definitely appealing to me.”
Nussmeier’s involvement helped land a rare Rice recruit for the Wolverines. Though one of the state’s most powerful programs, few Rice players have accepted U-M scholarships in the past decade.
“Having coach Nussmeier come in and evaluate Alex and see him throw and watch him and having some good positive feedback from him, we’ve rarely had a Michigan coach do that before,” Rice coach Dave Sofran said. “Him being new and wanting to look at a couple local quarterbacks in his own backyard; obviously, Michigan can recruit nationally.”
Nussmeier compared Malzone to Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, whom he coached, “so he’s used to that kind of QB at Alabama and he used to getting a home-type kid,” said Safron, who described Malzone’s overwhelming traits as being a winner and having an accurate arm.
Monday was a busy day for Malzone.
Listed as a three-star recruit by rivals.com and the No. 16 quarterback in the 2015 class, he was building his offer list quickly — Wake Forest and Pittsburgh both intrigued him, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati offered him scholarships Monday, and later Monday, after the U-M commitment was widely reported, Michigan State called.
“But like I said, I’m a Michigan guy,” Malzone said.
Now Malzone’s future shifts to the baseball season, where the Warriors are in the Catholic League finals on Thursday at Comerica Park. When that’s completed, his focus can return to Rice’s football season and the pursuit of a fourth straight state title.
Though it’s happened occasionally — Ithaca has a current streak of four straight, Farmington Hills Harrison has done it as well as East Grand Rapids — it’s a rare feat.
As for baseball, despite his talent, he has instructed his coaches for the past three years to tell recruiters and scouts that football is his future.
Committing now will streamline Malzone’s summer schedule. He’ll go to camp at U-M and, ideally, visit to the Elite 11 quarterback camp and the Opening event in Oregon for top prospects. He also plans to become an aggressive recruiter for the rest of the 2015 class, following the lead taken by previous quarterbacks Shane Morris and Wilton Speight.
His pitch is ready.
“I know coach Hoke, he came in after coach (Rich) Rodriguez, and they had a little work of rebuilding to do,” said Malzone, who declined to say whether he will enroll early. “I think coach Hoke is doing a great job. We sat down with him today and listened to him talk about what he expects from his players. He wants to get the best guys in the program.
“There’s a lot of great coaches in the staff. With coach Nussmeier coming in, that’s great for Michigan.”