Malcolm Folk is a foundational member of what was a slowly developing 2021 recruiting class. Out of Episcopal Academy in Pennsylvania, the three-star db had offers from Northwestern, Liberty, Buffalo, Army, and Syracuse. Folk announced his decision back in mid-April, and became the second prospect to commit to Dino Babers .
Now in December, Folk and SU’s top 2021 recruit, Darian Chestnut , are still the only defensive backs in the class. Folk and Chestnut have potential to be dominant in Tony White’s defensive scheme. White is a first year coordinator but has plenty of experience with the 3-3-5 defense.
In this system, there are at least five defensive backs in the game at once. Unlike other sets (3-4, 4-3, etc.), the secondary is almost positionless, meaning the safeties may need to line up as corners and vice versa.
Folk fits into this positionless football scheme and his film proves it.
After watching Folk’s junior season highlight film, here are the takeaways:
- Intangibles: Folk doesn’t have a recorded 40-yard dash time, but he plays fast. He puts his speed on display as a receiver and breaks plays wide open like the first play on his tape at the 0:16 mark. That kind of quickness is enormous in the secondary.
Folk also brings good range and ball tracking ability to the table. As a two way player he had some impressive catches, like at the 3:25 mark. These kinds of “ball-hawking” skills may remind you of Andre Cisco, and could contribute to forcing turnovers in the future.
- Awareness: Go to the 2:50 mark. On this play Folk drops back into a Cover 4 (four DB’s play a deep zone) and is covering a scissor concept. One receiver is running a post and the other, a flag to the corner of the end zone.
Folk kept his head in the backfield, saw the QB take off on a scramble, and came out of his coverage to make the play. A lot of DB’s have a tendency to get lost in coverage and lose sight of the backfield, but Folk had the awareness to keep his eyes on the action at the line of scrimmage.
- Complete Player: Folk displays excellent block shedding and open field tackling. As a projected safety, he has to be able to help in run support and on tape, he does. Additionally, he shows the ability to cover in both man-to-man and zone situations with good range and technique to complement.
The defensive back spots have filled up over the last two years, but cornerback was a position of need for this cycle. Factoring in Trill Williams’ opt-out, Syracuse has five defensive backs and one of those is a redshirt-senior in Devon Clarke. The Orange brought in three freshman last two classes, but depth is very thin there.
At safety, the situation is a bit different, Syracuse hit this position hard on the recruiting trail in the 2020 class. Several of those young safeties have already made huge impacts for this SU defense as well. Ja’Had Carter, Rob Hanna, and Ben Labrosse are the true freshmen. Aman Greenwood and Cornelius Nunn are redshirt-freshmen.
Folk is a perfect fit for the new 3-3-5 defensive scheme SU wants to run because of his versatility. White could play him at corner or safety and trust Folk to do his job. He projects to be a safety, and with his speed, could be part of the future at that position. A future, might I add that everyone seems to be optimistic about (at least on defense).
Folk is a very fundamentally sound prospect. He won’t “wow” you with crazy speed or big hits, but he does a lot of things at a very high level. Those include tackling, covering, and block shedding. Those are three of the most important responsibilities for a DB, especially a safety.
Want to learn more about Folk and hear from his high school coach? Hit this link.