November 6, 2007
Malele leads the way
Senior defensive tackle Matt Malele has become the unquestioned leader of Cal's front line this season. Four years ago though, Malele was standing on the Memorial Stadium sidelines on September 27, 2003, just another name on the roster during what is considered "The Victory" that turned around the Bears football program. As he gets prepared to play his final collegiate home game Saturday evening against No. 12 USC, Malele would like nothing more than to experience another triumph over the mighty Trojans once again.
Without question, the 6-foot-1, 312-pound Malele (pronounced Mah-Lay-Lay) was one of the first "blue-chip" recruits that Cal coach Jeff Tedford was able to nab on the recruiting trail. Malele, who starred at Carson (Calif.) High, recorded 74 tackles and 6.5 sacks his senior season in 2002, parlaying that effort into a plethora of postseason honors, which included PrepStar All-American accolades, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection and a Rivals.com nationally top-15 defensive tackle anointment.
After redshirting in 2003 and backing up Lorenzo Alexander in 2004, Malele worked his way into the starting lineup playing along side stud tackle Brandon Mebane in 2005 and 2006. With Mebane heading off to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks last spring, current players on the defensive side anointed Malele as one of the leaders of the unit going into the new season.
Although his stats (15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries) are not spectacular by any means this season, Malele - whose cousin Noris Malele has started on Cal's offensive line the last two years - has been steady clogging the middle of the lane as his value as an experienced lineman is what teammates note as a crucial attribute.
"He's our leader out there," defensive end Tyson Alualu said earlier in the year.
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