Safety Malcolm Willis joins cornerback Stephon Morris as the Nittany Lions' most experienced returnees in the secondary. A redshirt junior this fall, Willis will be looked to for leadership and consistently productive play for a secondary that must replace four senior starters. He will be the top candidate at free safety entering preseason camp. The strong, instinctive and athletic Willis also has been a valuable contributor on special teams. A starter in six games during the 2010 season, the former Lackey High School standout is on schedule to graduate in December, doing so in 3 1/2 years. Willis served a summer internship with One on One Fitness Consultants in State College. He is among 10 Nittany Lion returnees from Maryland.
2011 Junior Season
Playing in every game, Willis recorded 33 tackles (22 solo), as well as one interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick. He delivered Penn State's second blocked punt of the season against Eastern Michigan. In Big Ten battles against Iowa and Purdue, Willis made two solo tackles against the Hawkeyes, also grabbing an interception, and made three stops against the Boilermakers. In matchups against Northwestern (4) and Illinois (3), Willis accumulated seven total stops. In the meeting at Wisconsin for the Leaders Division title, Willis made five solo tackles and recovered a fumble. In the TicketCity Bowl with Houston, he was fourth on the team with a season-high eight stops. Willis saw action on 439 snaps, with a high of 48 each against Indiana and Houston.
2010 Sophomore Season
Willis saw increased playing time the second half of the season as Nick Sukay and Andrew Dailey battled injuries. Starting the final six games, he was instrumental in Penn State ranking second in the Big Ten and No. 16 in the nation in pass defense. He was sixth on the squad with 54 tackles (29 solo), grabbed one interception and had three pass breakups. Willis made six stops against Illinois. He saw extensive action at Minnesota and recorded a career-high nine tackles in the win. Willis made his first career start in the primetime win over Michigan and tallied eight tackles and a team-high three pass breakups. He continued his strong play as he delivered eight tackles in the historic comeback win over Northwestern. Willis grabbed a critical fourth-quarter interception off Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor on Penn State's two-yard line, for his first career interception. He made five tackles against the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium. Willis compiled four stops in the win over Indiana at FedEx Field and had two pass breakups. He made seven hits (six solo) and a pass breakup against Florida in the Outback Bowl. Willis was on the field for 642 snaps, topped by 90 plays at Minnesota and 80 plays against Florida in the 2011 Outback Bowl.
2009 Freshman Season
A quarterback, running back, linebacker and safety at Lackey HS under Coach Doug Lamb, Willis received All-Southern Maryland, all-county and honorable-mention All-Met accolades during his scholastic career. Willis recorded 773 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. He also hauled in five receptions for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Willis was a significant contributor for the top rated defense in the conference by recording a career 260 tackles and eight interceptions. He accumulated 99 hits, with three interceptions and two sacks as a senior. A two-year captain and team MVP, he led Lackey to conference and regional titles and a berth in the state semifinals. He also played on the winning squads in the 2008 Chik-Fil-A Challenge and the Maryland Crab Bowl. Willis was a three-year letterman in basketball and threw the discus as a member of the track and field team.
Full name is Malcolm Russell Willis. His mother is Dale Marshall and he has one brother, Vaughn, and one sister, Mia. Relative Leonard Willis played football at Ohio State and in the NFL, playing for Minnesota, New Orleans and Buffalo in the late 1970s. In his spare time, Willis enjoys playing video games and hanging out with teammates and friends. He is majoring in recreation, park and tourism management. Born March 27, 1991 in Washington, D.C.