2017 DE Corey Malone-Hatcher commits to Michigan

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — Regardless of his college choice, Corey Malone-Hatcher was going to start his senior season at Michigan Stadium. Now he plans to play in the Big House several more times.

The senior-to-be at St. Joseph (Mich.) High School announced his verbal commitment to the Wolverines in a press conference at his high school. To share his decision, the four-star defensive end recruit unzipped a sweatshirt to reveal a Michigan shirt. Over it Malone-Hatcher wore a lei made of $1 bills, a gift from his aunt that served as a nod to his Hawaiian heritage.

“Why not Michigan? Really that’s the best answer I can give you,” Malone-Hatcher said of his college choice. “With the tradition, the academic excellence that they pursue on a daily basis. As you look at the facts, one of the top public universities in the world. You can’t turn down an opportunity to play for a coach like coach (Jim) Harbaugh.”

Malone-Hatcher called Michigan’s head coach on Saturday to offer his pledge to wear the maize and blue. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State, Oklahoma, UCLA, Wisconsin and others.

Hats from Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama and Wisconsin were on display at Malone-Hatcher’s announcement. Each school played a significant role in his recruitment, but Malone-Hatcher said it came down to a Notre Dame-Michigan battle.

“Notre Dame and Michigan have been there for me since day one,” Malone-Hatcher said. “Both are very high academic schools. I’m very blessed for both of those offers.”

Michigan wasn’t a major factor for the 6-foot-3, 246-pound recruit until Harbaugh took over the program last year. Watching the Wolverines win 10 games last season really impressed Malone-Hatcher.

“I gave him credit for seven wins. That was my max,” Malone-Hatcher said of his expectations for Michigan first season under Harbaugh. “You see what they did. Almost taking out a Michigan State team who went to the playoffs. Kept playing hard even through adversity against Ohio State.”

Momentum from the 2015 season has helped Michigan nab 13 verbal commitments in the 2017 recruiting class. Malone-Hatcher became the fifth in-state prospect to commit the class including Phillip Paea from Berrien Springs.

247Sports pegs Michigan’s 2017 class No. 5 in the country. Rivals ranks it sixth.

“The best players in Michigan go to Michigan,” Malone-Hatcher said. I take pride in staying close to home.”

Malone-Hatcher, who started making college visits as a freshman, decided to end the recruiting process before his senior season in order to focus on one last run with the Bears. It starts Aug. 26 in Ann Arbor against Kalamazoo Central. Following the season, he plans to enroll early at Michigan.

He won’t have to spend weekends in the fall visiting schools trying to make a college decision.

“This puts me in a position where I can be around my teammates more and focus on developing our team into the level that we deserve to be at,” Malone-Hatcher said.

Malone-Hatcher’s junior season was cut short by a left ankle injury. He had surgery in September and has been working to a full recovery in the last few months. He’s confident the injury won’t slow him down.

“My confidence is at an all-time high,” Malone-Hatcher said. “Once you face an adversity like that, you have no choice but to grow up and be a man about it and power through.”

How he responds in his senior season will dictate where Malone-Hatcher falls in the final recruiting rankings from various web sites. Currently 247Sports slates Malone-Hatcher as the No. 12 weakside defensive end in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 13th at the position.

“His senior year is going to be very big for him because we really haven’t seen him in a year,” said Josh Helmoldt, Midwest recruiting analyst for Rivals. “What’s his development like? How does he come off the injury? Those are all questions he definitely has to answer this fall. I’m interested to see what his senior year brings for him.”

“At his best, he is an athletic and a fundamentally very strong defensive end prospect. A guy who can rush the passer but also do all the other things you want done at the position. How close is he to realizing his potential? That’s something we’ll be able to find out hopefully this fall.”

One more season separates Malone-Hatcher from the next step in his growth as a football player. The more he visited Michigan, the more he realized he wanted to do it as a Wolverine.

“They play for each other. They play for the school, the university,” Malone-Hatcher said. “Everybody recognizes that they’re representing something bigger than just themselves. It’s not about going to college. It’s about becoming a better football player, a better man, a better student and just developing as people.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

St. Joseph (Mich.) defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher, a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, announced his commitment to Michigan on Thursday at St. Joseph High School. (Tribune Photo/TYLER JAMES)