Malone honored as WVU’s top walk-on
As a walk-on offensive lineman raised in Milan Puskar Stadium’s backyard, redshirt junior Nick Malone is trying to carve a path similar to former Mountaineer great Rich Braham.
“We actually just watched his highlights last week, and he was at our practice,” Malone said. “He gave us a nice little speech, and just his story and growing up in Morgantown and how it all went, that’s the goal — you want to be just like him.”
Malone, a 2019 graduate of Morgantown High, was honored with the Tommy Nickolich Memorial Award during Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game. The award, handed out to the walk-on who has distinguished himself through his attitude and work ethic, is one Braham did not receive during his time in Morgantown.
Malone, primarily a reserve, has found his way onto the field in a variety of roles. He played 91 total snaps last season, including a handful as a tight end.
“What he’s done is he’s really worked on his body over the last three years to put himself in a position where, right now, we feel he can be a quality backup,” head coach Neal Brown said. “He played tight end on field goal all year last year. He played tight end in the last two games of the season. He’s done extremely well in the classroom. He’s worked, he’s been absolutely no issue, and he’s grown into a player. That was an award that, over the course of the last three years, he really earned.”
Malone has drawn praise this spring for not only his growth, but his willingness to embrace any role the coaching staff throws at him.
“As soon as they said ‘Morgantown,’ it was between me and Preston Fox,” Malone said. “Once it started going like that, I kind of initially put my helmet down to be like ‘Oh, okay’ and then I just ran out there right on the go. Not expecting it, but was blessed to be it.”
Malone is the first offensive lineman since Michael Calicchio (2014) to earn the award, as well as only the third offensive lineman to be honored since the award was created in 1991.
“Most linemen, we don’t get as much recognition — we get a lot of the blame,” Malone said. “Being a walk-on as well, it was a very good feeling, that’s for sure.”
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