Joe Gaiter: What does football mean to you?
Maliek Stephens: Football is a way of life to me. It’s not just a sport. Some people play the game for different reasons, but this is what I love I literally dedicate my life to this and hope to play the game as long as I can.
Joe Gaiter: Where did you grow up and how was your childhood?
Maliek Stephens: I grew up in a small town called Orange Lake in Marion County, Florida.
Joe Gaiter: How did you get started playing football?
Maliek Stephens: Just have a family full of athletes and I grew up around the game, rather it was watching football or playing it on video games and one day my cousin took me in the field in front of my grandma’s house and he got to work.
Joe Gaiter: What are your fondest memories playing at West Port High School?
Maliek Stephens: Just building relationships with the people there, but as far as football my fondest memories came from North Marion High.
Joe Gaiter: What made you choose Edward Waters College?
Maliek Stephens: After I was determined academically ineligible at Southern University I was kind of depressed because I had put so much into going there after leaving JUCO. It was hard see what my next move was. My nephew was actually transferring to Edward Waters from Southeastern and gave me a call. I got in contact with Coach Ruffin and we made it happen.
Joe Gaiter: What are some of your career stats at EWC?
Maliek Stephens: I have no Idea my career stats at EWC but I finished the 2019 season with 5 touchdowns after being hurt for 4 games.
Joe Gaiter: What is your relationship like with Head Coach Toriano Morgan?
Maliek Stephens: Ever since the first day I met Coach Morgan I knew he was a winner. He instantly showed dedication and love to the team so our relationship is great. He sees me as a leader on the team.
Joe Gaiter: Your last full season in 2019 EWU was 1-10. What can we expect from your team this year?
Maliek Stephens: You can expect to see a whole different team with a whole different mindset, the team nothing like it was in 2019 a lot of guys have brought in and there is a lot of competition right now so you can expect us to take the season game by game and leaving everything on the field.
Joe Gaiter: What have you been doing during the offseason to prepare for this upcoming season?
Maliek Stephens: I have been doing a lot of rehab to focus on being healthy and getting with our new Offensive Coordinator Brian Jenkins to understand the new offense that we have. I also got a lot faster.
Joe Gaiter: As EWC top Running Backs, do you feel the pressure to make a bigger impact this year?
Maliek Stephens: I definitely feel the pressure to make a bigger impact With me getting hurt last year I feel like many people haven’t got to see me at my full potential. With this being my senior year I have to prove to everybody who I am and what I’m actually capable of when I can be consistent and healthy.
Joe Gaiter: What separates you from other running backs in the country?
Maliek Stephens: I feel like I’m the most dedicated athlete in the country my will and determination separates me. My love for the game and football IQ is like no other.
Joe Gaiter: What motivates you on the field?
Maliek Stephens: Just the fact that every day I do what I love, and the fact that I actually have a opportunity to continue doing what I love on the next level which as been my dream since a kid. Also, I’ve been the underdog my whole life so that really put the grind in me that I still have today. I use all my downfalls as stepping stones.
Joe Gaiter: What is your untold story?
Maliek Stephens: I was raised by my mom and grandparents. I grew up in the country picking peas, throwing hay, building fences with my grandad and throwing watermelons. I learned to work hard at a young age which translates to me right now, anything I’ve ever achieved in life I worked for it. As that relates to football my grind never stopped. Even growing up around a lot of distracting activities I could have got involved in I stayed dedicated. This is why I feel like I was born to play the game.
Joe Gaiter: What is your major and how do you plan on using it?
Maliek Stephens: My major is criminal justice and I’m currently entering the masters program for business administration. I will use that degree to start my businesses.
Joe Gaiter: What game are you most looking forward to this year?
Maliek Stephens: Right now I’m looking forward to Florida memorial. That’s the first game I’m ready for us to show what we can do. I’m taking it one game at a time.
Joe Gaiter: After this season are you entering the NFL Draft?
Maliek Stephens: I will be entering the draft after this season.
Joe Gaiter: Who are some other athletes we should look at for this upcoming season?
Jordan Lewis (Southern University)
KJ Kinsler (Alcorn)
And the list goes on…