Malek Darthard is one of the best players from the Tampa, FL area in the Class of 2024.
The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Darthard, who attends Village of Excellence, is a versatile athlete that plays wide receiver, running back, linebacker, defensive end and kick returner for the North Tampa Rams organization.
Darthard has already earned plenty of accolades and recognition, such as being selected for the Pro Bowl and making the FBU Tampa squad.
Darthard is grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills against some of the best of the best in his league.
“It was a great experience we won both and it felt good to go out and represent our city to win the championship,” Darthard said. “It motivates me to want to keep getting better every day.”
No matter the opponent, on each snap Darthard is determined to give it his all.
Darthard is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Darthard steps between the lines.
“My mindset is to get better and master my craft,” Darthard said. “I want to leave it all out between those lines every time I step on the field. I refuse to be outworked. My opponent will always have to work for everything they get.”
Darthard has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. Darthard tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.
“I love the game itself but most of all the I love the contact, smack talking, teamwork, meeting new people and training,” Darthard said.
Darthard has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Football has taught me so much,” Darthard said. “Life can knock you down but it’s up to me to get back up and keep going. Hard work pays off at the end. Never say what I can’t do.”
Darthard describes his favorite football moment.
“My favorite memory was this season when we were tied up at 7 and my quarterback threw me the ball up the middle and my coaches yells ‘set the tone’” Darthard said. “I got 30 yards in and ran over the other player and the whole crowd yells ‘Yooooo!!!! Malek!!!”
Don Draper is Darthard’s coach with the North Tampa Rams.
Draper explains the best parts of Darthart’s game.
“He has great hands, whenever he catches a pass, the ball stops immediately. He has that squeeze that all good WRs have. As a KR his stride gives him the ability to cover plenty of ground quickly,” Draper said. “Within his technique, he has immediate adaptability. You will never play him the same two plays in a row. His adjustments are instant.”
Darthard takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Darthard makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I lead by keeping the team motivated focus in on the goal and working together as a team. Being a ‘we’ player instead of an ‘I’ player,” Darthard said. “Letting them know we can do this. Keep your head up and stay in the game.”
Draper adds that Darthard is one of those consummate teammates that every locker room needs to be successful.
“He’s a silent assassin, just the way I like my players,” Draper said. “He’s in control of his emotions, and has a different level of fluidity than most kids his age. I think it’s due to the fact that he plays baseball.”
Darthard is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“My coaches have helped make me a better player and person,” Darthard said. “They tell me go never give up on anything and to love the game. Always go for greatness. If you want to be a leader then lead.”
Draper recalls examples of Darthard’s capabilities.
“He recently stood out in the Deion Sanders Prime 21 camp in Ft. Myers,” Draper said. “Coaches liked his range and mentioned to me that he has sticky hands.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Darthard also has a high level of football IQ as well.
Darthard has excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
“He is a very smart player that is always thinking multiple steps ahead of the action,” Draper said. “He knows how to anticipate the opponent and use that to his advantage.”
Darthard is always on the grind to perfect and hone his craft.
“His work ethic is outstanding. He never complains and wants as many reps as he can get each day,” Draper said. “That attitude has a contagious effect on the rest of the team.”
Draper explains why Darthard reminds him of this legend.
“His work ethic is like Terrell Owens but his game specifically is Cris Carter,” Draper said. “They used to say that all C.C. does is catch touchdowns; that’s Malek.”
Draper outlines the next areas of improvement for Darthard.
“We are working on his game by exposing him to trainers and speed experts,” Draper said. “He has a nice camp schedule in front of him which should pit him against some elite talent, which will elevate his game.”
Meanwhile, Darthard patterns his style of play after these stars.
“I look up to two ppl in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins because he’s great at what he does. He doesn’t drop passes which is amazing,” Darthard said. “Odell Beckham Jr. because of his routine and how fast he can separate himself from his defender.”
Darthard lists science as his favorite subject in school.
Darthard is constantly striving for greatness.
“My goal on and off the field is to become a leader,” Darthard said.
Peacock dreams of one day being the next great LSU Tiger.
“I love watching them. It’s a great school,” Darthard said. “It would be great to play there because Odell went there.”
Draper believes the sky is the limit as long as Darthard continues to stay hungry.
“Malek is on pace to be the best youth WR I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching. I’ve never had a kid this polished so young,” Draper said. “He has the potential to get a D1 offer as an eighth grader.”
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