CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If Zach Malone was more driven by individual success, perhaps he'd be more intimidated by taking over as the leader of George Washington's defense.
After all, the Patriots have produced two Huff Award winners in the last 12 seasons, and likely would have had a third last year until linebacker Dustin Crouser had his season ended by a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 9 against Capital.
Perhaps lost in the din of Ryan Switzer's run to a second consecutive Kennedy Award and Crouser's high school career-ending injury was this nugget of fact: GW's leading tackler in 2012 was none other than Malone.
"It's really important (to me)," Malone said about becoming the bona fide leader of GW's defense.
"We have a really strong team this year. We have a couple guys from out of district here that came in ... they're going to play really good."
The influx of transfers Jon Alexander and Draven Riffe at quarterback and running back, respectively, has grabbed much of the attention being shined on GW in the preseason.
However, players like Malone, wide receiver Austin Giacomo, wide receiver Jacob Jackson and two-way lineman Adam Huffman are GW lifers and played crucial roles in the team's 10-3 record of 2012 that ended with a loss to eventual state champion Martinsburg in the playoff semifinals.
There have been five years since 2001 that GW has produced an All-State linebacker - Huff Award winner Joey Spano in 2001, John Hardison in 2003 and '04 and Crouser in 2011 and '12.
In the last 11 seasons only University, with seven All-State linebackers, and Wheeling Park (six) have produced more.
"Not at all. Not at all," Malone said when asked if he thinks about reaching the personal heights of his predecessors.
Malone was a second-team Class AAA All-State pick at linebacker last year, and was a first-team selection on the Daily Mail's Preseason All-State Team last month.