College Notes: Malik Smith joins brother Tyreke at Ohio State football pro day

Adam Conn
The Columbus Dispatch
Malik Smith, far right, next to brother Tyreke at Ohio State's pro day.

Ohio State defensive end Tyreke Smith is expected to hear his name called at the NFL draft. After that, all eyes in the Smith family will turn to Tyreke’s brother, Malik.

For the past eight months, Malik Smith has been alongside Tyreke preparing for the  draft as a tight end, despite never playing football in high school or college.

A high school basketball standout for Cleveland Heights, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a senior, Malik signed with UNC Asheville, where he played 19 games during the 2016-17 season. He transferred to Bryant in Rhode Island but again changed course after the team's  coach retired. He decided to finish his career at Fisk, in Nashville, but the transfer process was prolonged, so he took a week to visit Tyreke in Columbus. 

There, at a workout session, a coach passed him by and took notice. 

"A coach walked in showing recruits and said 'I've been paying attention to you. You've got great size. You can move. Have you thought about playing football?' "

After some convincing from Tyreke, Malik, who hadn't played football since his Pop-Warner days, immersed himself into learning the tight end position, where he hopes to follow the likes of current NFL tight ends Rico Gathers (Baylor) and Mo Alie-Cox (VCU), who starred on the court before switching to football.

“A few of the drills, it is my second and third time ever doing it,” Malik said. “Learning this game has been critical. It's been hard. But it's been a good process. And I'm surrounded by people who want to see me win, who want to help, like my brother.”

Tyreke has been training with Malik and was put in touch with former Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, another basketball player turned football player. 

“He's a sponge, willing to learn. The sky’s the limit for him," Tyreke said. "He just started training for this, and you can already see the transition he’s had and how good he's transitioning.” 

"I'm literally having to learn and perform at the same time, it's an unreal experience," said Malik, who is 6 feet 6 and 260 pounds, 20 fewer than his basketball playing weight. 

If an NFL team does not reach out this month, Malik says that's not the end of his athletic pursuits.

"I'm definitely going to stay with it. It's a process. Whatever does happen, I'll take it day by day," Malik said. "Two, three months ago, to tell me I'd be in this position, running routes in front of NFL scouts, it’s unreal. I feel like I'm in a dream."

Area accomplishments

Kentucky’s Abby Steiner (Dublin Coffman) set a personal record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.1 on a wet track at the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Florida. Steiner, who had not run the 100m in three years, beat her old mark by .22 seconds.

Ohio Dominican’s Sydney Long pitched three complete games, including a no-hitter, and totaled 19 strikeouts over four appearances last week. Her no-hitter against Lake Erie was ODU’s first in three years. Long went 3-1, allowing two runs on 12 hits through 23 innings (0.61 ERA). The Panthers have won seven out of their past eight games.

Hailey Maher (Central Crossing) of Otterbein was 5 for 6 with a home run and three RBIs to help the Cardinals sweep Capital in an OAC doubleheader. For the week, Maher finished 8-for-11 (.727), had a 1.273 slugging percentage, a .667 on-base percentage and drove in six runs

Denison's Clarie Powell went 13 for 22 (.591) with 12 runs scored, four RBIs, and three stolen bases over a six-game stretch. She had at least one hit and scored one run in all six games, including four hits over a doubleheader sweep against Kenyon in its NCAC opener. 

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