October 17, 2007

Malleo Switches From Varsity Football to Sprint

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When junior Matt Malleo made the decision to switch from varsity football to sprint, he knew he would have to start watching the balance on the scale and keep it under 172 pounds. The transition has been easy for Malleo, who has consistently found balance throughout all aspects of life, whether it is on the field, in the classroom or working as a manager-in-training at Enterprise Rent-A-Car this past summer.
In his first two years at Cornell, Malleo was a defensive back with the varsity squad, seeing limited action in seven games in his sophomore campaign. He has found that the switch to sprint has helped him off the field while giving him more responsibility on it.
“The game is more fun, and I’ve been able to contribute more to the team,” Malleo said. “It’s also freed up time to balance being a student at Cornell and preparing for a career while still playing a competitive brand of football.”
In his sprint football debut, Malleo was firing on all cylinders at the running back and receiver positions. In the contest, he led the team with 211 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown of the game broke a 16-16 tie late in the fourth quarter and proved to be the winning score in the 23-18 victory over Penn. His efforts were enough to earn him the CSFL Player of the Week in his first week with the team.
Allowing Malleo to play at multiple positions has proven to be a good decision by the coaching staff. The Wall, N.J., native is the team’s leading rusher, second leading receiver and top kick returner, In addition, he leads the Red with 128 all-purpose yards per game. Also, Malleo’s six touchdowns are twice that of any other player on the squad.
“Everyone has put me in a position to succeed,” Malleo said. “I didn’t have any experience at running back, but the coaching staff coached me up and the line has been blocking. It’s just nice to contribute and win these close games.”
Malleo has been a threat as a return man, receiver and out of the offensive backfield, and for the Red’s final two games against Penn and Army, it’s possible he could also contribute in the defensive backfield.
“I’m definitely enjoying playing at different spots,” Malleo said. “I’ll contribute wherever necessary and where the coaches need me.”
Malleo attributes his ability to balance playing offense, special teams, and possibly some defense in large measure to having maintained that same balance and persistent attitude outside of football. In particular, religous faith has played a key role for Malleo on and off the field.
“My belief has taken stress off me, and I know there’s no point in worrying,” Malleo said. “I try not to give myself glory, I give the glory to God.”
Malleo’s attitude has put him in the right position to succeed at the right time, as it did on one of his two touchdown receptions in the 34-0 victory over Princeton last Friday. Freshman Elliot Corey’s pass hit off a Tiger defensive back’s helmet, flew 15 feet in the air and landed in the waiting arms of Malleo.
“I was just sitting there waiting for [the ball] to come down,” Malleo said. “It was awesome.”
With his persistent attitude, Malleo has been a stabilizing force for the Red offense.
“Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in football, but when it comes down to it, it’s a game,” Malleo said. “My belief has helped me in terms of attitude and focus. Life is about attitude, whether it’s football or school or anything else.”
Malleo’s presence in the lineup is very influential to the offense, which has lost playing time from senior All-CSFL selections quarterback Zak Dentes and senior tri-captain running back Glenn Palmer, sidelined by injuries this season.
Malleo and the Red will hope to keep the ball rolling in Saturday’s rematch against Penn, the team that Malleo totaled 211 yards and two touchdowns against in his first appearance with the sprint team.
“This is a crossroads for us, one of the biggest points in the year,” Malleo said. “Penn’s a very good team, and last time we faced them was one of the best football games I’ve been in. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, we just have to do whaterever’s needed and win the game.”