Reason to sing

By Kristen Davis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 21, 1996

Adam F. Jarrold
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Kelly Malveaux said the biggest thrill of his UA career was his 31-yard interception return for a touchdown against UCLA last Saturday.


If Kelly Malveaux had a greatest hits collection, "Bear Down" would certainly be included in the mix.

"Being here for three years, it just grows on you," Malveaux said. "It brings chills to my spine every time I get the chance to sing that song."

Malveaux, a junior cornerback, ran into the locker room following the Wildcats' last two victories over Oregon State and UCLA proudly singing the fight song with a huge grin on his face.

It is that side of him - the outgoing, energetic side - that makes his 5-foot-9, 176-pound frame stick out on the team. If there is one person running around yelling, screaming or just talking to people, it is Malveaux.

"I'm always trying to talk to people on the squad," he said. "With 110 guys, we always don't get to hang out together."

Besides his outgoing personality, Malveaux said he brings a strong work ethic to the team. In fact, he has a motto on work ethic that he lives by.

"If it came down to someone out-working me and taking my position, I couldn't handle that because I feel I've always dedicated myself to trying to be the best," Malveaux said. "But if someone was just better than me, I could handle that a lot better."

Although Malveaux admits he has not had the best season and has not had the chance to sing "Bear Down" as much as he would have liked to, he said the proudest moment of his UA career was his 31-yard interception return for a touchdown in Arizona's 35-17 win over UCLA last Saturday. He has also recorded 38 tackles so far this season.

Malveaux said in addition to last week's performance, a big game against Arizona State on Saturday would give him the confidence to finish the season strong.

"It would help me rebound from an off season," Malveaux said. "It's just all about me going in, executing and making plays."

Malveaux has been playing football since he was 8, but he hasn't always played on the defensive side. In fact, Malveaux grew up playing the game as a running back.

It was not until his time at Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif., that Malveaux converted to cornerback, a position he enjoys much more because he is responsible for stopping plays rather than scoring points.

"I love the feel out there, being on an island just covering a person one-on-one," Malveaux said. "Athletic ability against athletic ability - that's what it comes down to."

Out of high school, he chose Arizona over Washington because, unlike in Seattle, it doesn't rain a lot in Tucson, and he can drive home in eight hours.

"He had unusual defensive backfield cover capabilities when he was in high school," UA head coach Dick Tomey said.

That is what makes Malveaux so effective. His energy and desire to play allowed him to break into the starting lineup when he was a true freshman.

He was a second-team All-Pacific 10 Conference selection last season, one in which involved plenty or on-the-job training covering some of the top wide receivers in the nation, including the NFL's No. 1 pick, the New York Jets' Keyshawn Johnson.

"That just made me grow as a player," Malveaux said. "It showed me that I really did need to grow and had a lot of maturing to do."

Besides the tough receivers Malveaux went up against, he said he learned a great deal from his predecessors, including safeties Brandon Sanders and Tony Bouie.

"They kept me focused up top with my head mentally and told me, 'You have athletic ability. It's going to come to you, just wait for your time,'" he said.

With the departure of Sanders last season, Malveaux has been forced to mature as a defender and to help provide leadership to this season's secondary.

"As Kelly has gained experience he's also gained an appreciation for the difficulty of the competition," Tomey said. "At the same time I've seen him grow in his own abilities."

Malveaux, a psychology major, said he hopes to come closer to his degree next year.

"I'm going to work very hard this offseason," Malveaux said. "I'm just going to try to make the best out of my senior year."