After – by his admission – Edina’s Hamza Malim had a subpar junior season, there was little or no buzz from college football programs surrounding the wide receiver. Hamza knew he had to step up his game – on and off the field. Now, he is committed to one of the top Division III programs in the nation.
“I left it all out there as a senior,” Malim said. “I knew I had to play well if I was going to play college football. I didn’t have a great junior year. During the offseason, I worked hard for the team and to play college football somewhere. Coming into the season, I knew I was going to be the main guy in the passing game.”
Confidence was the biggest hurdle Malim had to get over.
“I was more confident going into my senior year. I didn’t capitalize on my opportunities early in my junior year. Going into this year, I knew it was my last year. I had to leave it all out on the field. My offseason showed me how good my routes and releases had become. I tried to use that to my advantage.”
“My route running has developed since my sophomore year,” the two-year started continued. “My route running, and my releases get me my separation.”
Early on, the team didn’t get much separation in the standings.
“I would describe the season as a roller coaster,” Malim said. “We won the first game, and then we had to overcome some adversity and lost four games in a row. When we came into the Eden Prairie game, we knew we had to flip a switch. As seniors – it was the last time to try to beat them. We hadn’t beat them in seven years. We were focused and won the game.”
The win turned around the entire season. The Hornets went on to win the next three games – all one-score games.
“We knew we were a run-heavy team,” the 5’11” 170-pound athlete said. “We knew our offensive line would keep battling, and it would open some gaps for the running backs. If we kept pounding them with the run, it was going to force the defense to bring more guys into the box which allowed us to get one on one matchups. On defense, we had a lot of guys who just battled. It all started with our defensive line.”
Although he had a breakout season in 2019, the Hornets’ wide receiver knows he must improve.
“I have to study coverages and get to know defenses better,” Malim explained. “I need to stay confident and play with a chip on my shoulder.”
Football has been the focus of his winter season.
“This winter, I stopped playing basketball and focused on training for football. I focused on my speed and agility,” Malim said. “I train four days a week. Two days I work on speed, and two days I work on my routes and footwork.”
Late in the fall, recruiting finally picked up for Malim.
“Going into my senior year, I didn’t have anyone interested in me. I knew my senior year was going to have to be big to have schools interested. The week of the section championship game, Iowa State gave me a preferred walk-on offer. From then on, a lot of coaches started to get a hold of me. St. Thomas, Valparaiso, and Robert Morris were the most interested in me.”
His focused training before his senior year was noticed by college programs.
“They liked my routes and what I can do with the ball in my hands. They like my releases, speed, and my catch radius.”
Malim committed to St. Thomas in January.
“I chose St. Thomas because it is a good school academically,” Malim explained. “I like the coaching staff, and they are making a move to the Division I level – that got my attention.”
Malim stepped up his game, and his improvement got college football programs’ attention.