Catching Up with Malik Zaire

By Alex on December 2, 2011 at 10:00a
Zaire could be the leftyTroy SmithWill Zaire be next in line at Ohio State?

The trend for Ohio State over the last seven to eight years has been to get away from the tradition pocket passing quarterback and move towards the mobile, dual-threat signal caller. We have seen this in the form of Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, and now Braxton Miller leading the Buckeyes into battle each Saturday.

While the next few years under Miller will be very exciting, fans are already clamoring to see who will be next to hold one of the two most important jobs in the state of Ohio. Cardale Jones is set to enroll this January, but many recruiting fans are looking to a current junior who reminds you of Troy Smith when you watch his film. That player is Malik Zaire of Kettering Alter.

Zaire, a 6-1/190 lefty, didn't even have a high school start under his belt prior to this year, but was well known to coaching staffs thanks to some impressive camp performances last summer. Zaire impressed with his ability to throw the football with both power an accuracy, as well as make plays with his legs and athleticism. He impressed so much that Cincinnati offered him on his camp performance alone, before seeing him take his first snaps as a junior starter for Alter this season.

It didn't take long for others to join the fold. During this junior season, where Zaire has over 1,000 yards both passing and rushing, Wisconsin and Ohio State have offered and many others are interested. Zaire is becoming the name to know when it comes to quarterbacks in the state of Ohio for the class of 2013 and is getting attention from programs around the country. His list of suitors grows larger by the day and by the time he suits up for his senior season, expect him to be national commodity.

We got the chance to sit down with Malik to discuss his recruitment, what he thinks about Urban Meyer, his plans for the off-season and much more. Join us after the jump to catch up with Malik Zaire.

How did your junior season go? how did your team do and how did your perform individually?

My junior year was my first year starting and it was a great experience. We had an undefeated season at 10-0, but lost in the first round of the playoffs, so that was disappointing, but just made me hungry to win next season. Individually, I had over 1,000 yards passing and rushing.

For someone who wasn't the starter until this year, your recruitment really has blown up. I know you have offers from UC, OSU, and Wisconsin, but who else has offered and who is close to offering?

No other offers just yet, but I get a lot of love from Oregon, Northwestern, Boston College, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Purdue, and some others.

Do you have a favorite or top schools right now?

My favorite schools are the ones that have offered me so far: Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati.

When would you like to make your decision by?

I'll probably make my decision sometime before my senior season.

What do you think of OSU's decision to hire Urban Meyer as it's head coach? How does that impact your decision regarding Ohio State?

Urban Meyer being hired as Ohio State's head coach will be great for Braxton [Miller] and the Ohio State offense, as well as Ohio State's community and football program. it's the start of a new era. It impacts my decision in some areas, as it would be great to play for such a winning and profound coach.

Has Urban reached out to you yet?

Coach Meyer has not reached out to me yet. It would be an honor to hear from him soon, though.

It seems like Urban Meyer's offense fits right into your strengths. Do you see yourself fitting in to Urban Meyer's offense at Ohio State and would playing in a system like that excite you?

Coach Meyer's offense isn't my ideal offense that I would like to play in, but it is a successful, high powered and high scoring offense. I can definitely be effective in it for sure.

What is your plan now that the season is over? Any visits planned? 

Now that the season is over, I'm just working hard with my trainer. Actually, I use the same trainer that Braxton used during high school. I'll schedule visits sometime after the Army All-American Combine down in Texas which is in January. 

What will be the most important thing to you when choosing your future school?

What is most important to me in searching for a college is the best education for my major in athletic training. After that it would be my relationship with my coaches and the players. Finally, I am just looking for a great opportunity to play at the next level. 

What do you want to work on this off season to improve before your senior season?

What I want to improve on before my senior season is the little techniques and fundamentals that make good quarterbacks great. I also want to work on a lot more film study, being more patient in the pocket, and improve at reading and going through my progressions.



Comments Show All Comments

gravey's picture

What sort of offense does he want to play in?  Does he think the Meyer-O won't get him ready for the NFL?

Alex's picture

At the end of the day, I don't think that will matter. He seemed excited about Urban Meyer. All I do know is Wisconsin is showing him their offense this year with Russell Wilson and selling him on that.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Well according to UM fans, Meyer will lose out on recruits because his offense isn't 'pro-style' enough. You know, 'pro style' like Michigan was running this year...

schnaible5's picture

Obviously those michigan fans saying that didn't watch Meyer's press conference, where he said he will be using some I-formations and pro-style sets. 

btalbert25's picture

It's funny to me that Michigan fans and even Ohio State fans really at one point in time think Urban's system doesn't get QB's ready for the NFL.  For Crying out loud his system made Alex Smith the number 1 overall pick and Tim Tebow a first round pick.  Braxton, if he progresses like we all think, is going to be the highest drafted QB out of Ohio State in a long long time if not ever, and it'll be because Urban Meyer's system will make him put up insane numbers. 

Buckeye in Athens's picture

This kid, Cardale Jones, Braxton and Meyer's new offense make me think that there's no way Taylor Graham stays on at OSU. Hate to see anyone transfer, but if there's a guy who is likely to, I think it'd be him. 

flipbuckeye's picture

There might be some truth to Ohio recruiting being affected by Meyer's spread offense.

Brionte is already on record for wanting to play in a pro-style offense, and now Zaire is basically saying he wants the same. I mean, I'm sure Urban would throw in some wrinkles but I believe he ultimately wants his offense in place, which would allow a guy like Brionte to produce but not put up the kind of numbers he wants to.

When you think about it, the state of Ohio does tend to field more players with a pro-style skill set (big, bulky, not very athletic, smashmouth types).

I don't want to see talent leave the state (especially for teams like UM or Wisky), so hopefully Urban can work his recruiting magic on these guys.

btalbert25's picture

A lot of 17 and 18 year old kids are worried because you have coaches like Bilema and Hoke telling them, in his offense you won't be great.  I don't know how many 17 year olds are offensive gurus that can tell you I don't like Urban's style it won't showcase my talents.  Dunn seems to be cooling on that stance since he actually talked to Urban and Urban told him what kind of role he seed Dunn playing in the offense.  I wouldn't be surprised to lose one of 2 of these kids along the way to other programs, but at the same time, now that Urban can actually reply to the negative recruiting that's being used out there, since he is actually the coach here now, where as before it was just speculation, I think in the end he wins over most of these kids. 

Bucks's picture

Inevitably, while the gates are being raised in Ohio, the kids that absolutely want a pro-set/I-form offense are probably going to go to places we prefer they didn't. Meyer isn't air-raid central & incorporates quite a bit of pro. Give him a full season on the field & I don't think this will be that big of an issue.

ThirdLegLouie's picture

Urban is going to get Bri'onte..I've already heard on that first call to Dunn Urban was telling him "I've always wanted a back like you.. I've never had one before. You're going to get a lot of carries between the tackles and our offense will showcase you."


S&G All the way!

If you ain't a Silver Bullet, you're a target

BrewstersMillions's picture

He will get almost any player he wants. Michigan fans can give themselves all the hope they want to help them sleep at night. They can tell themselves Meyer won't get the tools he needs. That's insanity. I'd be willing to bet each and every one of Meyer's classes end up in the top 15. Plus, he'll lock down any defensive player he chooses. That's the side I think is being ignored here. Pro Style\Spread\Whatever Urban still recruits him some defensive players as well. I don't think I can stress enough just how much of a shock the rest of the B1G is in for once Meyer constructs his Death Star in Columbus.

Maestro's picture

Kid looks like he has watched a lot of Mike Vick film.  His delivery is very similar.

vacuuming sucks

Alex's picture

his twitter background is Mike Vick...probably says it all

blazers34's picture

wow, after watching his film, seems like Urban's offense would fit him perfectly.  Sounds like it will take a little convincing though.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I don't always comment on these posts, but I read ever single one of them.  These are fantastic Alex.  What you do is greatly appreciated.


Alex's picture

Thanks...appreciate all you reading

btalbert25's picture

I definitely agree guys may be leary about Urban's style of offense, but I don't think it's because the kids are breaking down film and voicing concerns based off of that.  Hoke and Bilemma were in there ears trying to snag a couple of guys away while they still could or can. Once Urban's team takes the field next year that changes.  When Braxton is getting Heisman hype next year, and we see the relationship he and Urban have on national TV all the time, and it will be talked about on broadcasts, other top notch high school QB's are going to say, wow, I need to be a part of that. 

We all know the relatiionship JT formed with Smith and Pryor, but it seems like Meyer strikes an even better bond with his QB's.  You saw him give love to his BG QB in the press conference.  Before there was Tebow it was an Alex Smith love fest on TV all the time.  We all know about the Tebow stuff.  QB's have a higher profile when they play for Urban.  Other QB's are going to want to be in on that.

Michigan is going to get good recruits and Wisconsin is emerging as a pretty good program so they will also start pulling in some better recruits, but Urban rarely misses out on guys he really wants.  If Hoke, Bilemma, and Urban go head to head for a kid, more likely than not Urban is getting his guy.  We witnessed this first hand with Floyd when he was all but a lock to be a Buckeye.  When Urban really wants a kid, he ends up playing for Urban.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Yeah, Urb never had a problem pulling in incredible classes when he was at UF.

OldColumbusTown's picture

Agree.  A guy like Zaire might be a little leery about the offensive scheme and what it means for his pro career, based on what the Hokes, Bielemas, etc. are trying to convince him on.  BUT, once some of these skeptics see Urban's offense in action in Columbus, and understand the opportunities they can have by committing to OSU, I think that skepticism will be negated.

This year's spring practice and game will be one of the most hyped in Ohio State's history.  I have a feeling the train for 2013 recruiting will really get rolling after some of these recruits get to see the new philosophy in person.  Let Zaire see it with his own eyes, and then let Hoke and Bielema continue to try and convince him their's is better.

E2Brutus's picture

6-1 seems a little generous no?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

Alex, these writeups are fantastic, thanks for banging these out consistently.

So does his last name rhyme with fire?   Just conjures bad memories of former Browns QB "Eric Zeier, rhymes with fire".....


AltaBuck's picture

For QBs, Alex Smith is a good example of a QB that worked primarily in a Spread (Shotgun) in college and was able to adapt to the demands of a NFL QB. 

This got me think about RBs. Regarding Dunn....If you think about RB longevity and value in the NFL, a big part is the ability to catch the ball and what you can do in 3rd down situations. RBs are essential in Urban's passing attack and any high school recruit that has the opportunity to play in it would be foolish to pass that up. NFL scouts will know whether or not you are a good at running the ball no matter what the offensive type.

It's harder for NFL scouts to qualify a RB's ability to catch out of the backfield when RBs are seldom used in a particular team's passing attack (Ie - Tressel's offense).  I always thought this issue hurt tOSU RBs' draft values. Saine was the exception but he still did not have a lot of passes thrown in his direction.



I am Groot - Groot

Buckeyejason's picture

Seems like a good kid, that could be very good in college.
I just wish we could actually get some pro caliber QB's that will make Ohio State look good at that position in the NFL. Hell ill take Alex Smith and Tebow types if that's what it takes.

These 6'1" slender, run first QB's just don't make it in the NFL. Michael Vick is the rare instance of a guy not that big who likes to run that is still around and doing well in the pro's.


Buckeye_Mafia's picture

The play where he fumbled the snap, split two defenders, and raced 40+ yards for a TD was amazing. That kid can play. And this was his first season as a starting QB? Damn. Kid is gonna be a stud.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

dmurder's picture

Yeah, that play was sick!

I would rather play in a offense that had more than 10 plays like bollman. That is the beauty of urban meyer's offense you never know what you might see. I for one am on board!

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03