Scholar Athlete of the Week: Malik McDaniel

WATCH: Scholar Athlete of the Week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some brawn is certainly required for those battling along the offensive and defensive lines.

Malik McDaniel is waving the flag for the brain power of the big fellas holding it down for their teams.

“Linemen are the smartest people on the field,” McDaniel said. “We gotta protect our quarterback, run block, we gotta think fast. Yeah linemen are the smart people on the field.”

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The Bartlett junior has room to boast. He’s competing with the top students as an honors and AP student.

McDaniel is currently sitting on a 4.4 GPA. It all makes sense when you learn about his family background.

“For me it’s putting God first in my life and getting disciplined,” he said. “Then my school work is important for me and my family. My mom, she was really smart. She went to Vanderbilt. So, for me, school first and then its football second.”

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The discipline and smarts to excel in the classroom transfers to the field for McDaniel. He has to learn protections and avoid undisciplined habits along the line.

Panthers coach Lance Tucker says you couldn’t ask for a better student athlete to coach.

“He’s just a tough, big, strong physical young man,” Tucker said. “He knows he’s an offensive lineman and he loves it. He loves the challenge of it.”

McDaniel feels his smarts in the classroom come naturally. Don’t think he doesn’t put in the work, though.

Malik McDaniel: As you get older that talent, you’ve got to actually use your talent. Can’t just let it go to waste. You gotta keep working so you build on your talent and you improve yourself.

Improving himself is what McDaniel did in the summer when he shadowed a surgeon. He learned quickly this line of work wasn’t the move for his future.

McDaniel would rather handle the clean work as an anesthesiologist.

“I wanted to be a surgeon at first,” he said. “Then I shadowed a surgeon. I don’t like cutting into people. So, no I’ll just put people to sleep.”