Blake safety stays competitive in the classroom -- Gazette.Net







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Hard-hitting James H. Blake High School strong safety Ricardo Malcolm has a new target in his sights: Teammate Kwame Asante.

Malcolm competes with his teammates on grades — an outlook that has raised his grade-point average during the last couple years — but catching Asante will be a tall task.

“I’m trying to get to his level,” Malcolm said. “Right now, grade-wise, he’s doing pretty good. I’m getting there.”

Blake coach Tony Nazzaro admits he might have fanned the flames of Malcolm’s classroom competitions.

“If you’re playing football, you’re naturally competitive, I think,” Nazzaro said. “I’d say that’s one of the things I try to tap into on all the players, is their sense of competitiveness with everything. If I think that will give them a little bit of an edge, a little bit of extra motivation, that’s something that I’ll definitely use.”

The plan has paid great dividends, which Nazzaro realized when an SAT prep teacher approached him last year.

“He said, ‘I really want to tell you about one of your kids that’s doing such a great job,’” Nazzaro said. “I knew he had a couple of other kids on the team that were honor students, honor society, honor all that stuff. He was like, ‘Ricardo Malcolm is just doing great.’”

On the field, Malcolm also has shown a tendency to rise to the occasion. Friday, he returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown in a win against Wheaton. With the victory, Blake has won three straight after an 0-2 start.

Nazzaro called Malcolm, last year’s team defensive player of the year, one of Blake’s leaders. Malcolm said he did his best to keep his teammates hyped during their slow start, and his leadership extends into the school day.

“If class is unruly, he’ll help get it settled down, stuff like that,” Nazzaro said. “He’s kind of a quiet leader, but somebody a lot of the other kids in the school — not just on the football team, but throughout the school — respect him a lot.”

Malcolm has received interest from Indiana University, Liberty University, Samford University, James Madison University, Monmouth University, Stony Brook University and Towson University. Earning a scholarship offer motivates him a great deal, especially because he could become the first member of his family to attend college.

“It’d be an honor,” Malcolm said “I’d love to do that.”