Player Spotlight: Malik Golden
On a Penn State defense that has immense talent, one player has always had his work cut out for him, but has found a way to succeed. That player is senior Malik Golden. Golden started his football career playing wide receiver and defensive back for Cheshire Academy. At Cheshire, he racked up over 2,900 all-purpose yards and led his school to win the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council State Championship two years in a row.
Upon arriving at Penn State, Golden was immediately faced with adversity. He had to make a position switch to safety and join a loaded Penn State defense. Joining the ranks of Marcus Allen, Jordan Lucas and Grant Haley has only benefited Golden. This translated to Golden receiving his first start against San Diego State and helped the Lions hold the Aztecs to 141 passing yards and only one scoring play.
Although Golden hasn’t received the amount of playing time he would like, his mentality has been the same even after that game when he started in place of Jordan Lucas.
"As a player, you just get excited," said Golden. "Jordan Lucas is like my brother, and you get down for him, but it was just an opportunity to showcase and be a part of a great defense, I've always felt ready. When it's my time, I was excited."
Golden may have felt like he might have been in the shadows, especially with his inconsistent play in previous years, but defensive coach Bob Stoop had always noticed him.
"You've got Ryan [Keiser] and Malik Golden, who played late in the season and when he played, he caught my attention,” said Shoop. “I kept saying, 'Who's 6? Who's 6?”
Golden’s momentum continued on into the Blue and White game, where Golden stood out once again. Shoop once again brought him up in conversation when talking about how great the depth at safety is.
"I thought Malik Golden and Troy Apke were both very, very consistent [in the spring]. Malik was a guy who was inconsistent last year but had two pick-sixes in major scrimmages and made a nice pass breakup and played very well with the second unit in the Blue-White game.”
Going back to Penn State’s thriller against Maryland, the defense struggled all game, allowing Maryland to score 30 points. That included a season-high 466 yards by Maryland quarterback Perry Hills. Maryland had the ball once last time with a chance to win the game. With time running down, Golden provided the turning point of the game with his game saving interception.
This has been the case for Golden his entire career, staying ready and making the big play when needed. He’s had to deal with fewer minutes and changing positions, but he never complained once. Malik Golden is the true definition of someone who strives and adapts in any situation. Big things will continue to come from him.
Brandon Stewart is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.