Penn State have a special player in 2022 three-star offensive tackle Maleek McNeil. As the 8th ranked prospect in Massachusetts by 247 sports, he stands at 6’8 350 lbs with the talent to shut down opposing edge rushers. Playing for Williston Northampton school in Easthampton, Massachusetts, he overmatched and easily dominated his competition. We talked about his commitment to the Nittany Lions, his NFL ceiling and more for Philly Sports Network.
Leader: What makes a great offensive lineman?
Maleek: Individually, the right mix of size and athleticism and the ability to understand space and adapt. Honestly, the line itself makes the individual greater, iron sharpens iron.
Leader: What do you bench press? what is your 40 time?
Maleek: Currently 285 bench and 5.5 on my 40, but those stats are changing. My weight has been ranging between 345 to 350-ish recently so those stats are only going to improve as I continue to lose body fat and get stronger. I lost about 20 pounds over the last year and my goal is to lose another 15-20 before getting to Penn State.
Leader: What made Penn state the obvious choice? What do the coaches like about you?
Maleek: Penn State was the best overall fit for me. It’s big-time football and college with individual attention. The coaches, campus, and location were all factors. I have a lot to do over the next few years and being in the right environment for me to do those things is important. The coaches like my size and feet the most.
Leader: What players have you gotten close within your recruiting class?
Leader: You play a very important position? Which NFL linemen do you model your game after?
Maleek: My guy Marcus McNeill for sure!
Leader: There are a lot of great NFL defensive linemen. If you could pick one, who would you want to go up against?
Maleek: I don’t have one specific person, they can put whoever they want in front of me, I will figure them out and figure out what I have to do.
Leader: What will NFL scouts like about you in the locker room and off the field?
Maleek: My personality. I usually connect with people easily, normally I’m smiling, joking, dancing and hyping everyone up, but when it’s go time, I flip a switch and turn that guy off quick.
Leader: What talent do you have on the football field that comes naturally?
Maleek: I’m a visual learner so my spatial recognition is really good. It’s pretty easy for me to see what’s happening and what needs to happen. Also, my size and my feet, which honestly my basketball background with ProScholars Athletics (PSA) has a lot to do with.
Leader: What type of offense would you love to play in?
Maleek: Option but for me, running the ball is the most fun.
Leader: What about your favorite NFL team?
Maleek: Baltimore Ravens.
Leader: What type of talent would NFL teams be getting?
Maleek: Not to sound cocky, but they would be getting the best version of me. I know what’s in store for me at Penn State and I’m going to be nasty when I leave there.
Leader: What type of player is the future of PSU getting?
Maleek: A team player who is super competitive and picks up quickly. For example, Trautwein showed me how to golf last on my OV. I wasn’t even hitting the ball at first, he told me what to do, showed me what to do, adjusted my technique and my next swing was 200 yards. He’s a great coach.
Leader: Explain the type of relationship you have with James Franklin? What stands out about Coach Franklin?
Maleek: I have a good relationship with Coach Franklin. We have a similar personality in a lot of ways. He’s fun but he’s honest with me too. He was recently explaining how I scored above average on everything, which I guess is rare at 350lbs, and he said my ceiling is insane, but he straight up told me that I have to get stronger. Which I’m going to do, I’ve just been mainly focusing on losing weight up until now.
Leader: What NFL coach do you admire the most?
Maleek: George Warhop.
Leader: What about Penn States offense impresses you? What do you like about the offensive line room?
Maleek: Everything, but mostly the people. Coach Trautwein is seriously a technician and I’m excited for him to teach me – I need that. With Coach Yurcich, you’re going to see the offense light people up in every which way and fast – I like that. The line itself, man…the line is going to be a machine, definitely chemistry on the OL and with the QB.
Leader: So, are you from East Hampton? How have your parents been an influence on your journey?
Maleek: I was born in Cortland, NY but raised in NYC (Dyckman/Inwood area). Last year we moved outside the city to Garrison. My family is a huge influence, my mom especially and also Forde (Jason Forde), they’re always there and they’re great role models. They can literally just make anything happen, they’re also really big on making sure that I’m in the right environment. My Aunt Callie is a really important person to me too, she gets on me a lot, but she is just making sure that I’m a good person and that I stay humble. She helped me get a job at Home Depot this summer, so besides my workouts, I’ll be lifting boxes of tiles all summer.
My whole family is athletic, but not professionally. They’ve played basketball, football, tennis, wrestling, track, and even field hockey. The professional athletes are in my extended PSA family, which Forde is one of the directors of. PSA is a sports-based college prepatory program who works with young men to gain debt free access to college while competing on the Nike sponsored AAU circuit. Too many big names to mention coming out of there, but the older PSA guys that I’ve been in contact with have been Omari Spellman and then last year when I decided to switch my primary sport from basketball to football, I connected a lot with Austrian Robinson who went to Ole Miss.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire