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Des Moines Register
Sometimes last season, the term “video-game numbers” didn’t properly describe what Fremont-Mills junior Seth Malcom did on the football field.
On Oct. 11, for instance, in a 58-21 win over East Mills, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Malcom rushed 35 times for 458 yards and eight touchdowns, all while amassing eight tackles and an interception on defense. The week prior, in a 58-42 win at Bedford, he piled up 336 yards and six scores on 30 carries, all while he logged 15 tackles, five solo tackles for loss and a pick-six on defense.
That domination will happen when a Power Five prospect plays eight-player football.
“He’s cool, calm and collected,” said Jeremy Christiansen, Malcom’s head coach at Fremont-Mills. “And then he flips that switch and he’s aggressive.”
With an enrollment of 93 students, Fremont-Mills High School, located in the southwest Iowa town Tabor, doesn’t have enough kids to field a regular, 11-player football team. So, like other small schools in Iowa and surrounding states such as Kansas and Nebraska, Fremont-Mills has eight-player football.
Although it’s rarer for an eight-player prospect to land a Power Five scholarship, it does happen. Iowa had three eight-player products on its 2015 defensive line in Nate Bazata, Drew Ott and Nate Meier (who also went to Fremont-Mills).
Now, Malcom is the latest eight-player Iowan bound for Power Five football.
He holds offers from Iowa State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas State and Wyoming, and Iowa and Missouri have shown interest. Recruited as a linebacker, Malcom landed his first offer from the Cyclones in March 2019, after he had 101 tackles and 18 solo tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Nebraska offered the following month. Then, after he had 70.5 tackles and 15 solo tackles for loss this past fall, Minnesota and Kansas State joined the race, and Wyoming just offered this week.
Christiansen said Malcom plays middle linebacker for his team. The field is narrower in eight-player football (40 yards compared to 53 1/3 in 11-player), so the fast and long Malcom has a say in just about every play on defense.
In town, Christiansen said Malcom often gets compared to Meier, who rushed for 2,494 yards and 57 touchdowns while logging 73.5 tackles, 17 solo tackles for loss and nine solo sacks as a senior at Fremont-Mills before starting his Hawkeye career.
“They like his length,” Christiansen said of the coaches recruiting Malcom. “He keeps growing. I haven’t seen him here in a couple weeks so I’m assuming he’s gotten even taller since. You start looking at those college offenses where they spread out the field, you’ve got those linebackers that are able to drop in the hook zones and, with their wingspan, they’re able to take up some space.
“Some of his numbers are gaudy. We even had two less games this year than most teams. I think his ability to take a very small play and just spring it and be gone is impressive. That makes him unique and different.
“Just like all the D-I kids, he’s fast, he’s physical. So I think he fits that linebacker prototype, so to speak, for all those schools.”
There is no doubt a transition from eight-player to 11-player. Christiansen thinks the biggest adjustment comes in how to play different coverages, which are going to be different on a wider football field.
But, most importantly, Christiansen said, the ability to run, block and tackle is just the same in both versions.
“Mostly it’s never coming off the field. You have to learn new positions and be ready for anything,” Malcom said of what’s different about eight-player. “I feel like I stand out more in eight-man because the flow of the game is a lot faster than 11-man.
“I know there are things I will have to learn when I get to that point. I’m excited to see what my future holds.”
Malcom said he’s considering all schools that have offered him. He still hopes to be able to take official visits, but the coronavirus has kept him from locking in any plans. His goal is to make a commitment before his senior season.
The 247Sports Composite gives Malcom three stars and ranks him the No. 66 outside linebacker in 2021. The Register ranks him the No. 17 in-state 2021 prospect.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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Source: Des Moines Register