An interview with Marshall University's safety Malik Gant.
Colts Prospect Interviews: Marshall Safety Malik Gant
By Zach Hicks Apr 16, 2019, 3:30pm EDT
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Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
The Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Today’s player interview is Marshall Safety Malik Gant. The Colts could use a tone setter on the back end, and the hard-hitting Gant would be an excellent fit.
The interview will be towards the bottom of the page, as he interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about rising up from being a walk on to a star player, why he declared early for this draft, and how he would pair with Malik Hooker on the back end.
5’11” 209 pounds
40 Time: 4.63 / 10-yard split: 1.61 / Bench Reps: 17 Reps / Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches / Broad Jump: 114 inches / 3-Cone: 7.45 seconds
190 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 13 pass deflections in his career.
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts still have a major need for a safety in this draft despite re-signing Matthias Farley and Clayton Geathers. Geathers has had his injury problems in the past and Farley is coming off of a season-ending injury. Adding a tone setter like Gant would be an excellent addition to the team. He may not be a great athlete, but he makes up for that deficiency with a tireless motor, excellent angles, and top-notch physicality. He is a tone setter on the back end that offenses are always aware of. The addition of Gant, to go along with the safety group the team already has, could make for a fun and physical group.
Motor and closing speed stand out the most on film. Gant knows how to close ground in a hurry, and plays with a ton of effort on every play.
Gant is solid in coverage as well, as he knows how to separate ball from man and be physical with bigger players.
Gant is also a big hitter on almost every play (which got me a bit excited in this tweet).
ZH: You decided to walk on at Marshall out of high school. Why did you decide to go that route?
MG: I didn’t really have any other choices, I didn’t have any offers from any other schools. The process was getting really difficult and my mother told me as a last resort she wants me to go to school just for my education, and I got accepted to most schools. Marshall was right down the road and was the cheapest process for me to be able to go to school. Once we got down there for a tour, the opportunity for me to be a walk on showed itself and my mother said it was a great opportunity for me to be able to play football and continue my education.
ZH: How did it feel when you finally earned that scholarship last year?
MG: It felt great because I was able to relieve my mother of having to pay for school after those first two years. It was just a great feeling because of that aspect.
ZH: How did it feel to go from walk on to Team MVP after this past season?
MG: It felt great. Not just for myself, but for being able to be a leader for everybody on the team from the walk ons to the people who get every single rep. Just being able to lead by example and show people that you can come from anything was really important for me.
ZH: You decided to declare for this draft early, declaring after your redshirt Junior season. What went into deciding to leave college early?
MG: I would say just the opportunity to be able to chase my dream and to be able to contribute and give back to my mother. She put the money into my dream those first two years when I was a walk on and helped me reach the point where I am at right now. Seeing the toll it took on her paying for those first two years, I really want to be able to give back to mother for everything she did for me.
ZH: Going to your film, you don’t just tackle players. You tackle through them. How important is it to be a consistent tackler who leaves a mark on players when you are tackling?
MG: The main thing that I think people shy away from is that hitting someone sticks in a person’s mind for an entire game. We are all human, you know. If you have to think about or second guess playing the same same way that you have always played, especially for offensive players, that slows down the way they usually play and that is an advantage for the defense and the entire team even. That is just the advantage of putting it into their head that if they go my direction, I’m going to make the tackle.
ZH: Would you label yourself as a tone setter of a defense?
MG: Yeah, most definitely. I set the tone for the entire defense on every play.
ZH: A major aspect of playing safety, especially for strong safeties, is the ability to cover tight ends. Do you think you match up well with these athletic tight ends in the NFL?
MG: Yeah definitely. I would say being able to be so versatile, with playing in the box and checking running backs and tight ends and slot receivers, is a strength for me. Being able to come down and play man or play zone is something I’m very prepared for. I’m fluid in my hips and I think I’d be great doing that.
ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after/compare yourself to?
MG: If I could compare myself to anyone, I would say Earl Thomas, who recently signed with the Ravens. He is just versatile. He can play anywhere on the field and there is no drop off in any position you put him at.
ZH: How well do you think that you would pair with a ballhawking free safety in Malik Hooker?
MG: I would say that I would be great because with my skill and his play as a ballhawk, we would be perfect with each other. You got a person who can play in the box and stop the run, when it is necessary, and check the tight ends and running backs and stop the short game, which helps out on the back end and allows him to roam back there. We could also switch roles even and make the defense even more fluid.
ZH: Last question for you. On and off of the field, what is my team getting if they draft Malik Gant? What makes you stand out in this class?
MG: If you look at my stats and you look at my style of play, there isn’t any safety that matches up with my versatility. Everybody is a safety who can play on the back end or play in the post but no one in this entire class this year has played as many snaps in the box as I have or has made as many stops for negative yardage at the line of scrimmage as I have. I don’t think anybody else compares to my ability as a safety around the line of scrimmage.
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