One of the nation’s top athletes in the 2022 class, Malaki Starks (6-2 190) of Jefferson, GA, is down to a final three of Clemson, Georgia and Alabama, three heavyweights on the field and on the recruiting trail. Starks plays all over for coach Gene Cathcart, the former coach at Seneca and Greenwood. This season he’s passed for 225 yards, rushed for 644 yards, scored 10 touchdowns and totaled 22 tackles on defense in five games reported by MaxPreps.
From Clemson’s standpoint, Starks is a safety, and leading the way for Clemson’s recruiting of him is safeties coach Mickey Conn.
“Clemson has an amazing program,” Starks said. “They know how to win. They are all about family. I look at that and that’s just something I wanted to be a part of. They’d use me as a safety and a returner. He (Conn) said that I’m really athletic and I’m really smart, and just my speed and my hands.”
Starks has not yet visited Clemson. He has visited Alabama and Georgia. He was impressed with what he saw both in Tuscaloosa and Athens. Georgia, being the home-state schools, of course has a special spot with him.
“With Georgia, I’m really tight with the coaching staff,” Starks said. I’ve visited Georgia a lot and they have a great atmosphere. I like what they are doing up there and I’m cool with everybody.”
Starks said there is no timetable for a decision, but he has some idea of what he wants to find in the school he chooses.
“Just where I can go somewhere and be me,” Starks said. “I don’t have to be another great player. Somewhere where I can use my skill set to the best of my ability. Where I can compete. Where it feels like family. And where me and my family feel it’s the best fit.”
Starks is rated as a five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked the #16 prospect nationally in his class, the #2 athlete and the #2 prospect in Georgia.
He’s also a track standout in the 200 meters and the triple-jump, and he said running track in college would be something he would entertain if possible. But that would not be available to him at Clemson since the school announced Thursday it is dropping its men’s track program.