DUDLEY — Best friends and entrepreneurs, Southern Wayne’s tandem of Malik Thomas and Xavious Speight — not surprisingly — are taking their college careers in the same direction.
Academically strong in the classroom and multiple letter-winners in athletic competition, they officially signed with Methodist University last Friday morning.
A natural athlete, Thomas will run indoor/outdoor track for the Monarchs. The bulkier Speight plans to play football in the fall and join Thomas on the track in the spring.
“They’ve become like brothers,” said Ronnie McClary Jr., head football and track coach at Southern Wayne.
“I think it’s a great decision.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic momentarily stopped, then halted their senior seasons, Speight and Thomas had turned in solid efforts in their respective sports.
Speight wore numerous hats for the Saints’ football team and emerged as the leader in yards rushed and touchdowns scored in 2019. He advanced to the state meet in indoor track.
Thomas, a hurdler, also qualified for states. He thought about joining the military, but when Methodist put an offer on the table, he couldn’t say “no.”
“I’m very excited, because it’s something new,” said the soft-spoken Thomas. “I think I can bring a lot of joy and excitement to the party at all times. I feel like I can learn pretty quick and can excel fast.
“I just need to give it 110 percent.”
Thomas plans to major in physical education and return to coach at his soon-to-be alma mater. He attributes his decision to how his current coaches have helped influence and change his life in some ways.
He wants to do the same for the next generation.
More out-spoken than his counterpart, Speight didn’t intend to run track beyond high school. However, he’s developed an affinity to the sport since it helped him rehabilitate a torn ACL and MCL, and broken kneecap midway through his prep career.
“For me to go and play football at the collegiate level, I feel like it’s a gift and I’m going to take full advantage,” said Speight, who has compiled a 3.9 grade-point average in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“I’m really going to school for academics. For me to run track, also, is a better opportunity, too.”
Speight anticipates playing linebacker on defense, but knows he has room to grow as a teammate and leader. Sprinting and field events are his strengths in track.
He intends to pursue a double major in math and either computer science or chemistry.
McClary Jr. hopes Speight and Thomas, along with senior. Tashawn Philips, continue their current business venture. The trio created “Push Through Sad Days” (PTSD) and have used the platform to help fellow classmates who suffer from mental illness.
The duo has undoubtedly relied on the PTSD platform in recent months since the world has slowed to a glacial pace due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel like I’m hitting a new level in life,” said Speight, who recently celebrated his 18th birthday. “It just hit me that life moves on, keeps going.”