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High school football: Hamilton’s versatile Verdon makes college decision

Malik Verdon, Hamilton football
Malik Verdon, Hamilton football

Malik Verdon was trying to keep an open mind about the college recruiting process, but signs just seemed to be pointing the Hamilton High School rising senior to Miami University’s football program.

The 6-foor-4, 200-pound athlete committed to the RedHawks on Monday after narrowing his list down to Miami, Air Force, Kentucky and West Virginia.

He follows the path his cousin, Lakota East High School graduate and former RedHawks guard Jarrett LaRubbio, took after playing one season at Kentucky and transferring to Miami in 2016.

“It came down to a couple different things,” Verdon said Tuesday. “I liked the coaching staff and how close it is to my parents. They can come up to watch. I somewhat followed the program over the past few years because my cousin played there. He said he loved it, so I really took that as a factor.”

LaRubbio started 27 games over three seasons at Miami, including eight starts as a redshirt senior guard in 2019. Verdon said he has visited the campus in Oxford three or four times and likes that the RedHawks see him as either a safety or wide receiver – which means he may have the opportunity to get on the field right away because of the flexibility he brings to fill open roles.

Verdon is expected to play wide receiver, free safety and quarterback for the Big Blue this season, which will be his first on the gridiron at Hamilton after transferring from Moeller in October 2019. He played basketball for the school in the winter after moving for “personal family reasons,” he said, but spent two seasons with the Crusaders football team before that and was at Lakota West as a freshman.

“I’m fitting in pretty good,” Verdon said of his new team. “I knew some of the kids before I came over. I’ve known (running back) Kaleb (Johnson) since fifth grade or so, and played against Quincy (Simms-Marshall) and Keyshawn (Stephens) for a while now. Expectations are pretty high. I love my team and I can’t wait to play.”

Verdon rushed 26 times for 240 yards and two touchdowns in five games for Moeller in 2019 and played six games in 2018, according to the Greater Catholic League statistics.

Despite his limited statistics, Verdon has displayed next-level potential that earned him status as a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports.com. He is the nation’s No. 42 dual-threat quarterback in the 2021 class and also is Ohio’s No. 52 player overall in the 2021 class by the 247Sports.com Composite ranking.

“He’s a versatile player who can do a lot of different things for us,” Hamilton coach Nate Mahon said in April. “He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands.”

Verdon, who moved to Ohio from Arizona in fifth grade, was offered scholarships from Florida and Mississippi State as a freshman at Lakota West, as he was named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team in 2017 and competed at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s National Combine in January 2018. He also attended the National Combine this past January.

This spring he added offers from schools like Toledo, Georgetown, Navy and West Virginia, but Verdon felt good about his options and was comfortable with the decision to commit to Miami. Now he’s preparing for his final high school season and hoping to make a big impact before heading to college.

“I’ve been working out a lot lately, going out to the field with some of my teammates, taking any pointers I can get,” Verdon said. “I’m ready to be a playmaker.”

Hamilton, a playoff team in 2019, is scheduled to open the season against West Clermont in August.