Five-star Georgia athlete says Clemson makes him feel like priority target

by - Recruiting Reporter -
Starks can make plays on both sides of the ball. (Photo courtesy of MainStreetNews)
Starks can make plays on both sides of the ball. (Photo courtesy of MainStreetNews)

One of the top athletes in the 2022 class narrowed down his list of schools in November, and Clemson is one of the schools the 5-star continues to focus on.

Jefferson (GA) athlete Malaki Starks released a top-3 on November 2nd, with Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia all making the cut. The 6-1, 196-pound 5-star athlete is currently the No. 28 player overall and the No. 3 athlete in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Although Starks has yet to visit the Clemson campus, the Tigers are hoping to take another top prospect from the state of Georgia.

Starks’ Clemson recruitment has been led by safeties coach Mickey Conn, and Clemson is hoping to see Starks in their secondary and as a return specialist.

“Coach Conn and I are really tight. We text about every day or every other day,” Starks told TigerNet. “He knows about me and my family, and I know all about him. Before they offered me, there was a time when Clemson wasn’t offering any ’22 kids yet and he kept talking to me and told me I’m the only safety he wants. He thinks highly of me and recruits me very heavily. We have a really good relationship. As a player, they like that I’m so athletic and fast. As a person, they think I fit in with their program. I’m really big on helping people, and I think I fit in really well with that they have going on up there. Clemson has a great program.”

Starks received offers and interest from many of the top programs in the nation, and his final three were simply the schools he has built the best relationships with.

“I kind of felt like those were the schools that are recruiting me the hardest,” he said. “I also felt like I could make the biggest impact at those schools. I have the best relationships with the coaches that I’ve talked to at those three schools.”

Alabama and Georgia also continue to be in a good position with Starks, with Starks having visited both campuses multiple times in the past.

“I’ve been to Alabama twice and I’ve been to Georgia probably seven or eight times,” Starks said. “(At Georgia) I honestly have a good relationship with everybody. Coach Warren, coach Smart, coach Lanning, I talk to all of them. I went to a camp at UGA a couple of years ago and that was my first camp. I ran my 40 and coach Smart stayed on me the whole time I was there. Since then, they have been big on recruiting me. I like the family atmosphere I get when I’m there. They make sure I know that I’m a priority for them. And Alabama is a crazy school I guess you could say. They know how to win. I love how they play and I love their grit to win.”

Starks lines up all over the field in high school, primarily playing quarterback in the triple-option and safety on defense. What makes Starks a standout on the field?

“I think it’s my leadership and my effort,” Starks said. “There’s a lot of dudes who play my position, but I think it’s my effort and my heart. One thing I’m big on is to not get outworked. I feel like every play, I’m going to give more effort than the dude that’s in front of me. I just feel like I’m different and I bring more leadership and more passion.”

Although Starks has yet to make the trip to Clemson, the 5-star is planning to visit once recruiting resumes. With no plan or time in mind as to when he will commit, what will Starks be looking for in his final three schools?

“First, it’s my major and if they have what I want to go to school for,” he said. “I plan on majoring in either Sports Management or Business. I want to go somewhere that feels like home and feels like family. I want to be somewhere that I can compete and be the best me. I want to go somewhere that a coach is going to push me to not just be the best athlete, but the best man that I can become. And I want to go somewhere that I’ll see the field.”

Starks’ athleticism is off the charts, with tremendous quickness and 4.4 speed. As one of the top players in the nation in the 2022 class, what will Clemson, Alabama, or Georgia be getting from Starks?

“They will get everything from me,” he said. “My goal is to win a natty. Of course I want to get to the league, but I want to win a natty. I want to be with my teammates and be the best me that I can be. I want to bring a different type of energy and a legacy that has never been left before.”

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