Brown RB Malan lands with hometown Rams as free agentPosted: Tuesday April 30, 2002 2:50 PM
This is the fifth in a series as CNNSI.com follows Mike Malan's quest to play in the NFL.
By B.Duane Cross, CNNSI.com
For an Ivy League wannabe, it's the NFL version of The Neverending Story. After sitting through 17 hours and 30 minutes of the 2002 NFL Draft, the tale still did not have appropriate closure for Brown University running back Mike Malan.
"I went home to St. Louis and hung out," Malan says of draft weekend, April 20-21. "I was just hoping to hear some good news. I was hoping to get drafted.
"It was a little frustrating" not being among the 261 names called from the podium at Madison Square Garden, he admits, but adds: "I wasn't too discouraged. I was expecting the phone to ring, and a few teams did call."
Among those interested were Carolina, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Even before the draft was completed, the Bengals were using their dime to entice Malan to sign on the dotted line as a free agent. "Cincinnati [running backs coach Jim Anderson] called and said they didn't have any more draft picks, but that they'd like me to come in and play fullback."
Alas, a happily-ever-after was in the works. With several teams vying for his services, Malan opted for the hometown Rams.
"The decision wasn't too hard," says Malan. "St. Louis only has one fullback [James Hodgins] on the roster. The Rams brought in two other [free-agent] fullbacks, so I've got as good a shot as they do to be the backup."
Hodgins, whom head coach Mike Martz considers the best blocking back in the NFL, remained with St. Louis after the team matched the Denver Broncos' five-year, $5.5 million offer sheet April 19.
Malan flew into St. Louis on April 25, attended team meetings and tried to memorize the fullback plays. On Friday morning, the Rams asked him to take reps at tailback. "I didn't know what to do," he says. "I'd like to work at both [fullback and tailback]."
After the five-practice minicamp last weekend Malan was admittedly "overwhelmed."
"At first, yeah, it was a lot, definitely what I expected. They threw a ton of information at us. It was basically learning on the fly. By the fourth practice, I felt comfortable."
With Hodgins entrenched as the starter, Malan understands his role is to learn and contribute in any way he can, including special teams. "I just have to learn from James, watch films," he says.
However, Malan is now focused on finishing his senior year.
"Graduating, that's No. 1 right now," he says. "I have an eight-page paper due in a week, a couple of exams, another small paper ... all that's got to be taken care of first.
"And I'll continue to work out -- and study the notes I took at camp."
Malan will graduate May 27, then report back to the Rams the next day.
Truly this is a neverending journey.