A lot of little boys have dreams of one day becoming a football player. There is something magical about playing under the stadium lights, cheerleaders belting your name, and getting that clean, crisp jersey dirty.
For those lads out there who can relate to this, think back to your days of PeeWee football. Your mom was terrified to let you on the field and your dad was bursting with pride, secretly reminiscing about his own glory days.
Unfortunately, as the years progress, so does the competition. Those dreams of playing on a college football team become more distant, and reality sinks in for a lot of people.
This was the case for former Dallas resident Ben Malcomson.
Malcomson was always a quick little chap, but he lacked what most football coaches seek. In his own words, he was “too little and really skinny.” So he did what most kids in his situation would do: focus on sports where his size would benefit him. Fifth grade football was as far as he got, and to his knowledge that was the end of his football career.
Now, perhaps you are wondering why the name “Ben Malcomson” sounds familiar.
Think back a few years to a story involving the USC football team. You may have seen this daydream of a story in Sports Illustrated, The Dallas Morning News or on Fox Sports. Malcomson was a Print Journalism major at the University of Southern California (USC). His passion for sports journalism landed him a coveted roll as a football reporter for USC’s newspaper, The Daily Trojan. He had spent many games on the sidelines covering the team’s victories and losses. It was his senior year and he was searching for a unique story idea that would spark interest among USC football fans.
“I saw an ad in the school newspaper that was talking about walk-on tryouts for the football team,” Malcomson said. “And I figured that would be a cool story to write about. So I decided to go to the tryouts myself and experience it and I had no intention of actually trying out to make the team.”
The first day of tryouts came and went. Approximately 40 hopefuls showed up and only five were invited to the next round of tryouts. Among those five were Malcomson.
Yes, you read correctly: a kid whose football experience only included a blip in little league football as a wide receiver.
Once again, Malcomson was not cut and became an official member of the USC Trojans’ football team.
Those five were whittled down to two over the course of the next month. Once again, Malcomson was not cut and became an official member of the USC Trojans’ football team.
“I had covered the team through the newspaper for years and I was a familiar face around those parts,” Malcomson said. “And so the coaches definitely knew who I was. They called me ‘the newspaper guy’ during the tryout. I went through the tryout and went home to write the story and a few days later I got a very surprising phone call from a friend and they told me that I had made the team.”
Needless to say, Malcomson was a bit shocked. Actually, he was flabbergasted. Initially, he could not even convince his father of his news until his dad read it in the Los Angeles Times. It was not just his dad who couldn’t believe it; Ben thought this miracle was simply a prank.
“I thought maybe Coach Carroll was playing a joke on me and then I did a little investigation and it was for real,” Malcomson said. “I went to talk to Coach and all the decision-makers. Coach said I was quick and had good hands.”
Malcomson came out with one heck of a story; talk about up close and personal. Instead of standing on the sidelines with a piece of paper and pencil, he was suited up in the USC football garb. Just imagine how he felt the first time he slipped that helmet over his head. He must have thought “this is for that little fifth grade wide receiver.” But his splendor wasn’t just for his inner-child. It was for every guy and gal who wished they could suit up as a college football player.
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