Head coach Chris Kleiman isn’t the only new face on Kansas State’s coaching staff. Among many other players and coaches, the father-son duo of cornerback coach Van Malone and freshman corner Vaughn Malone also are new around the Kansas State football complex.
Despite Van accepting the position of cornerback coach for the Wildcats, he said getting his son to come with him was still “a recruiting process.” He said Vaughn’s decision to commit to Kansas State was a decision made on his own.
“I had to convince him that this was the best place for him,” Van said, “and I was the best coach for him.”
Van also said recruiting his son to K-State took a little extrinsic motivation from Dad.
“I had to threaten him a little bit, let him know if he went to another school he wouldn’t be getting any allowance,” Van joked.
Vaughn said he initially wanted to play for Texas State University, but after his father became a member of Kansas State’s staff, he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I pretty much made my decision once he came here,” Vaughn said. “Once I figured out he was going to be coaching corners, I’m like, ‘Well, this might be the easiest way to get on the field. If he’s coaching, I might get a chance to play.’”
Vaughn said he’s watched his dad coach football his whole life, and credited Van as the person who got him hooked on football.
Van has coached for 21 years but has never had the chance to tutor any of his children until now. He said the opportunity almost has been a “surreal experience” for him.
“It’s cool as I sit in the meeting room with him and I look over at him, and when it’s your kid, it kind of, like I said, it takes me back to all the years of talking to parents and them saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you check my son out,’” Van said.
Van said being able to coach one of his own has opened his eyes to value of being a good coach.
“It’s helped me to understand the importance of treating these kids right, because they have a parent attached to them,” he said.
Although his perspective has changed a bit, Vaughn said that doesn’t stop his dad from being tough on him in practice.
“He’s definitely harder on me,” he said. “Because I’m his son, he wants me to do well. It’s not like other players. He obviously wants everyone to do well, but I’m his son, so he holds me to a higher level than other players.”
Even though Van’s standard for his son is high, he said he doesn’t have any additional expectations for his son in Year 1. At this point, all the elder Malone said he hopes to see is team-wide improvement.
“We just want to do the best we can to master those day after day: your effort, your communication, technique and fundamentals, continuing to improve them at this time is what we’re focused on,” Van said. “As far as goals, yeah, we have some goals that we’ll set, but we’re not in the place to do that yet.”
While Vaughn hopes to get on the field at some point, he understands the growing pains that come with being a freshman on the team.
“I just want to improve throughout the season, get better, try to pick up what I learn in practice through the game,” he said, “and hopefully get in (games).”