By Gabriel Stovall
After spending his first three years in a Lovejoy Wildcats uniform, diminutive wideout Malik Route has been anything but small on the field for the Griffin Bears during his senior season.
Since beginning the season with just one college scholarship offer — that from Mercer during his 10th grade year — Route’s play is starting to draw the attention of Division I suitors. It started with a strong summer, which we chronicled in this story before Route made the jump to the Spalding County school, and is continuing with him being No. 8 Griffin’s leading receiver through four games.
Route’s caught 30 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns. He’s averaging right at 13 yards per catch.
Now, as this week’s “Five Questions Feature” athlete, Route talks about his transition from Lovejoy to Griffin, his newfound popularity among college recruiters and his desire to make his one and only year at Griffin a trophy-filled one.
SCBuzz: So you’ve gotten the offer from Army and others are showing signs that they’re starting to notice Malik Route. How gratifying is it for you to start getting this kind of attention?
ROUTE: “I feel that all the hard work I’ve been putting in with my team and my trainer Andrew Powell is finally paying off. I’m finally starting to get that shine like I feel like I’m supposed to.”
SCBuzz: Tell me about your move to Griffin. It seems like you were doing just fine at Lovejoy. What precipitated that move?
ROUTE: “Well, my mom works down here, and I’ve always been in and around Griffin and Spading County, and it just fits for me. The offense fits me perfectly and it’s just a great feeling. The offensive coordinator uses my strengths a little bit differently and he moves me around and hides me differently. They move me into different positions on the field, and I think that helps me out a lot.”
SCBuzz: Which schools have offered you so far, and which offer would you say you’re most excited about?
ROUTE: “I’ve been offered by Army, Elon, Western Carolina, FAMU, Mercer and West Georgia. I can’t really say right now which one I’m most excited about because I haven’t taken all my visits. I’ve only seen Mercer and West Georgia. Since we play every Friday it’s been hard to go down on Saturdays, so I’m still working on getting all my visits in.That’s what I’ve been waiting on. In the meantime, I just remain humble and keep working. I hope the offers keep coming.”
SCBuzz: The football atmosphere in Griffin is a little different than what you’ve seen in other venues, isn’t it?
ROUTE: “Oh yeah, It’s totally different. Down here everybody comes out to the games, and the entire city of Griffin shuts down. I had to just get used to it. Being in a football town and playing in front of those big crowds is definitely something I’ve had to get used to.”
SCBuzz: Which remaining game on the schedule are you most looking forward to, and how do you want to see this season at Griffin end?
ROUTE: “Probably Riverdale. That’s the game I want to play most. It’s a region game and I know a lot of people on the team that I grew up with. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be some good competition out there. As for the season, I just want to keep having fun. We’re 4-0 right now. We’ve been rolling. We want to win state again, bring another ring back here and send off these seniors with a championship. And for me, I’m just trying to keep getting better. I’ve always worked on my explosiveness. I really think that’s what separates me from other receivers. This year I know how to get open more and separate from defenders, so I just want to show that ability for the rest of the season.”