"He was able to shine through those guys, too, a little bit," GW Coach Steve Edwards Jr. said of Malone's performance in 2012, which itself ended with an ankle injury that forced him to miss the Martinsburg game.
"He jumped on the scene when we had a scene. He was able to be recognized," Edwards said. "They key is keeping him healthy. If I can keep him healthy he can be as good as those guys (who graduated). I truly believe that, on both sides of the football. He's solid."
Malone finished with 98 1/2 total tackles as a junior. He'll also return to his spot at fullback this season, where he filled in for Crouser after GW's loss to Capital on Oct. 19.
As far as his impact on the Patriot offense, Malone said he's eager for the team to get back to what Edwards has traditionally referred to as "attitude running."
"We've got a big line this year, a strong line, and that's going to enable us to run the ball a little better than we have been," Malone said.
The Patriots haven't had much trouble racking up rushing yardage the past two seasons, with Switzer running for 2,379 yards in 2012 and 2,796 in 2011. Much of what the North Carolina freshman wide receiver picked up was of his own creation, however, and he often created yardage where there was little to be had.
Prior to Switzer's arrival GW tended to run between the tackles more, and Malone foresees a return to that style.
"I can't wait. Truly, I think it's one of the toughest positions to play," Malone said of playing fullback. "You take most of the beating. You create all the holes and all the problems are in the middle."
George Washington opens its regular season Thursday, Aug. 29 at home against South Charleston.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.tay...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.