Born: December 20, 1987
Town: East Orange & Piscataway
Malcolm Jenkins was born December 20, 1987 in East Orange and grew up in Piscataway. Strong and swift, he gravitated toward football and track. Malcolm’s father, Lee, constantly underscored the importance of dedication and focus, and learning from mistakes. He often drove Malcolm and his friends to youth football practice.
Malcolm played wide receiver and defensive back for Piscataway Township High School, The Chiefs featured several future NFL players, including Kyle Wilson, Dwayne Gratz and Anthony Davis. Malcolm was a member of three state champion teams, in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He also ran track in the spring and was the state champion in the 400 meters as a junior.
Malcolm drew interest from a handful of college football programs. He accepted a scholarship from Ohio State and saw lots of action as a freshman. Malcolm started at cornerback as a sophomore and was named First Team All-Big 10 his next three seasons. The Buckeyes went 43–8 in his four varsity season, and made it to the BCS Championship game his sophomore and junior years (losing both times). Ohio State was a Top 10 team every year Malcolm played. He finished his college career by winning the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award as the NCAA’s best defensive back. He’d been a semifinalist the year before and was just the second Buckeye to win the award.
As the 2009 NFL Draft approached, most teams were looking at Malcolm as a safety. He was a half-step slow to be a shutdown cornerback. The New Orleans Saints took him with the 14th pick in the first round. Malcolm earned more and more playing time as his rookie season progressed. Meanwhile, the Saints won the NFC Championship and went on to defeat the Colts in the Super Bowl. Malcolm had five tackles against Indianapolis.
In 2010, Malcolm started at free safety when Darren Sharper missed the first half of the season with knee problems. He made a game-changing tackle against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Malcolm earned the award again two weeks later and scored his first NFL touchdown when he returned an interception 96 yards against the Rams.
Malcolm played for the Saints through the 2013 season. In five years with the team he forced 6 fumbles, intercepted 6 passes and had over 350 tackles. In 2014 he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent. Playing string safety, he had a career-best 3 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. In 2015, Malcolm was hailed by many as the best strong safety in the NFC. He won another Defensive Player of the Week Award when he picked off a Tom Brady in front of the goal line and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown that helped the Eagles upset New England 35–28. Malcolm finished the season with a team-best 109 tackles.