When football practice began in the fall of 2015, few outside of his family and friends even knew who Malik Frost, the fifth-string tailback for the Granite Bears, even was.
By the end of that season, pretty much every team in the Northwest 1A Conference knew who he was. By the following spring, he was a state champion in another sport, and a lot of people in the entire state were taking note.
And in the coming fall and spring, several football and track teams in the NCAA’s South Atlantic Conference will get their introduction to Mr. Frost.
The 5’10”, 170-pound senior completed his meteoric ascent from benchwarmer to college prospect on May 9, when he inked his National Letter of Intent to play both college football and track and field at Mars Hill University.
Frost, whose calling card early in his Granite Bears athletic career was as a sprinter on the track team, didn’t make the varsity football team until his junior year. In the first five games of his varsity career, he carried the ball just nine times for 83 yards. However, a series of injuries, coupled with his success in the meager number of opportunities he’d had, led to head coach Kelly Holder giving him a chance to play in week six, at Winston-Salem Prep. Frost carried the ball 27 times for 158 yards and carried injury-riddled Mount Airy to a 31-18 victory that it absolutely had to have.
The rest was history. Frost gained more than 100 yards in every game left on the Mount Airy schedule. He ended the season with 1,109 yards on 143 carries with 13 touchdowns, and made the All-Conference team after starting the year as fifth string.
“(He) moved up because of injuries,” said Holder, “but once he took the spot, he never let it go.”
Frost was back on the track in the spring, earning All-Conference honors once again for his work in the sprint events. The Bears didn’t win the NW1A regular-season, but as the teams went deeper into the playoffs, Mount Airy’s best athletes outclassed everyone else. In the state championships last May 20 in Greensboro, Frost joined Cordell France, Grayson Corbin and Donavon Greene to win the state 4×200 title. By the end of the day, the Bears had more points than everyone else, after France overtook a North Stokes runner in the last 100 meters of the 4×400 final to finish sixth in the event — and first in the team standings.
The title was one at the end of a day that saw Mount Airy and the conference rival Vikings trade the meet lead three times. Going into the 4×400 relay that decided the title, the Bears trailed by a half-point. In order to overtake North Stokes once more, Mount Airy had to finish in the top eight, and ahead of the Vikings.
It was the first team state track and field title in the long history of Mount Airy High School.
“The highlight of my career would probably be winning the state title in track, both as a team and individually,” said Frost. “That was the first state team track title that the school ever had, and I feel honored that I was part of that group.
“It was a little bit of a shock, but I knew we could do it and I had faith in our team and coach.”
Frost is the second Bear runner in as many years to sign with Mars Hill. The aforementioned Cordell France joined the Lions a year ago, and is currently one of the team’s top sprinters as a freshman.
“We knew it was going to come down to the 4×400, and we knew we just had to finish ahead of them and get points to win,” he said. “It was exciting. It was one of those moments that really didn’t set in until the next day.”
This fall, Frost returned to the gridiron and showed that his stellar 2015 was no fluke, running for 1,392 yards and 19 touchdowns despite missing two games. Mount Airy went 13-2 and reached the regional finals, and Frost again earned All-Conference honors.
“I worked in the off-season as hard as I could. I lifted, I did drills, I did everything,” said Frost of his football career. “I went to camps over the summer, and I tried to learn as much as I could and put it to use for my team.”
But the best may be yet to come. Last Friday, the Bears’ track team won the Midwest Regional, and will be in Greensboro on Saturday with an excellent shot to repeat as state champions. Frost will be there, trying to end his career at MAHS on top.
Frost said he loves playing both sports, and was grateful to have the opportunity to play both at Mars Hill. He will leave in late summer to join the Lions for football drills. He plans to major in computer science, and will join the track team at the completion of Mars Hill’s football season.
“I enjoyed track, and I enjoyed football, but if I had to pick one or the other and had to choose, I’d probably say football is the most fun,” said Frost. “I figured I would be going just to do one sport, but I’m blessed and I am glad to be going for two sports, and I’m going to work hard.”
He said he doesn’t know what position he will suit up for in football yet, but will be part of the Lions’ 100 and 200 meter contingent, along with the 4×100 relay, where he will again team up with France.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.