Former basketball players who focused on football and excelled are well documented, and Sylvan Hills football Coach Jason Houle said he believes sophomore linebacker Malachi Summons could do the same.
Summons, 6-4, 225 pounds, is in his first year of football after previously playing basketball and has shown flashes of being a potential high Division I prospect.
"He's starting for us at outside linebacker right now and he's probably our most consistent guy on defense right now," Houle said. "He's long, he's rangy, he has a great head on his shoulders, really good grades. Ever since he joined the team, he hasn't missed [aworkout or practice]. He's been at everything."
Houle uses the word "special" when discussing Summons' talent.
"We think he's going to have a chance to be a guy that could play at possibly the highest level in college football," Houle said. "It's just going to have to be the knowledge of the game for him his ceiling is real high. He may turn into a defensive end in college."
A 2003 graduate of Sylvan Hills, Houle was the Bears' offensive coordinator until getting promoted to head coach in March after four seasons at the school. He was the defensive coordinator at North Little Rock prior to Sylvan Hills.
Summons has recorded 15 tackles, 7 tackles for losses and a sack in 3 games this season.
North Little Rock had its share of high Division talent while Houle was on staff, including former Ohio State receiver KJ Hill and the late Altee Tenpenny, who played running back at Alabama and Nicholls State.
"We had some special guys at North Little Rock when I was over there with KJ and Tenpenny," Houle said. "They were special in different ways. They were special as far as the offensive skill set. Malachi is more like a defensive guy for us. Just to have his size and range on the field, I think he's going to be very versatile. He's a good kid. he has his head on straight."
The adjustment from basketball to football can be a challenge, but Summons has embraced it.
"That's the thing you worry about with a basketball guy coming," Houle said. "You kind of wonder if they like the physicality of it. He likes it. He's still running around making tackles."
Former tight ends Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, and defensive end/linebacker Julius Peppers are just a few former college basketball players who went onto stardom in the NFL.
"We all know a 6-4 guy in basketball, you better be a point guard and you better be able to handle it and shot lights out," Houle said. "In football, a 6-4 guy that can put weight on the frame, that's what people are looking for."
With his limited football experience, Houle wanted to ease Summons into the sport but has plans to use him on offense next year.
"We're not utilizing him on offense right now because it's a little more complex," Houle said. "He hasn't played the game, so it was a little too much overload for him, so we left him on defense. Next year he'll roll into some roles for us and maybe play tight end."
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