At Fulton High School, everyone knows Xavier Malone.
“We’re talking about a guy who’s started every game since he’s been here,” said Fulton Head Football coach Rob Black. “Since he’s stepped on this campus.”
At fourteen Malone was thrust into a leadership position as he took over the Falcons offense. In the four years that followed he’d throw 95 touchdowns for 9,166 total yards. A high school career that’s earned him offers from the reigning Conference USA Champs University of Alabama Birmingham along with Tennessee State.
What he’s done under center in the maroon and white may be part one of the legacy he’ll leave behind. But part two is his work in the second floor classroom of Fulton High, where the CDC students spend their days.
“I’ve been in there since my sophomore year,” Malone explained. “I just kind of go in and help with some of the work. I may be having a bad day and I just go in and see and they just cheer my day up.”
That work led him to a special relationship with Bronson, a nonverbal student in the CDC classroom. The play caller quickly learned how to read people, the way he read defenses in the fall.
“He makes noises and stuff so, he’s smart he knows what he’s doing and stuff like that,” Malone explained. “It’s kinda cool to see how he reacts.”
Bronson doesn’t know that Xavier is the top ranked quarterback coming out of Knoxville for the Class of 2019. To Xavier, Bronson and the others aren’t CDC Students.
“You can see it,” Fulton Assistant Principal Misty Lingerfelt said. “It’s not like it’s those kids, he really respect them.”
“They mean a lot to me,” Malone said. “They’re just like other people in the school, you should treat them the same.”
By design the role of a quarterback is a leader, both on and off the field. Xavier put pen to paper signifying the next chapter of his life at Pikeville University on signing day. His shoes to fill on the gridiron are large, his shoes to fill it. Larger.