February 15, 2024

Big Scoop: Malik Carney ready to tackle new challenge in Saskatchewan

What’s the scoop on Scoop?

Malik Carney, who signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a free agent on Tuesday, is pleased to relate the tale of how his nickname came to be.

“That goes all the way back to high school,” the 28-year-old defensive end says from Washington, D.C. “I can remember it vividly.

“Defensively, it wasn’t one of our best days. One of our scout-team running backs was having a crazy practice and our coach was on our tail.

“Long story short, the coach called a play where we met between the tackles, and I scooped him and dumped him.

“One of my teammates was saying, ‘You scooped him! You scooped him!’ So I was Big Scoop. Once I got to college, they dropped off the Big and I just became Scoop.”

The moniker was applied while Carney was attending T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School) in Alexandria, Va.

The 1971 T.C. Williams football team, which won a state high school championship, was depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster Remember the Titans.

“When you’re there, obviously they’ve got banners and everything, and there are little chants that are in the movie that are sometimes brought up,” Carney says.

“But, in my years there, the whole focal point was trying to create our own legacy and not live off the historical legacy. That’s what our coaches were preaching and that’s what we were trying to do.”

Mission accomplished.

When Carney was a senior in high school, his team secured its first playoff berth in 22 years.

“We weren’t able to get all the way to the championship,” he says, “but ending that drought is something that will always be close to my heart and will always be special.”

After graduating from T.C. Williams, Carney enrolled at the University of North Carolina and played for the Tar Heels — as did a high school teammate, defensive tackle Jeremiah Clarke.

“Playing at North Carolina, there’s always that persona of basketball, because of Michael Jordan and the Tar Heels and what they’ve done over the years,” says Carney, who procedes to echo the sentiments he expressed about his high school alma mater.

“Going to North Carolina, you try to create your own legacy and start something new. North Carolina is predicated on basketball, but football has had some great names, from Julius Peppers to Lawrence Taylor to Willie Parker to Hakeem Nicks.

“Going to North Carolina, we were trying to change that legacy from being a basketball school to a football school.

“Overall, I loved it at North Carolina.”

Another North Carolina alumnus, Darian Durant, is among the elite players in Roughriders history.

Carney would love to make his own imprint on the Green and White as an erstwhile Tar Heel after spending the past three CFL seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

In fact, Carney made his regular season pro football debut at Mosaic Stadium on Aug. 14, 2021. He also recorded his first career sack, at the expense of Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo.

On Oct. 7 of the following year, Carney recorded three sacks when the Roughriders visited Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. He added four defensive tackles, one of which was for a loss.

Overall, Carney registered seven sacks in 2022. This past season, while once again playing in 17 games, he recorded five sacks and added a career-best 52 defensive tackles.

The Roughriders’ brass, led by Vice-President of Football Operations/General Manager Jeremy O’Day and Head Coach Corey Mace, took notice.

It became an organizational priority to reach out to Carney as soon as the CFL’s free-agent negotiation window opened on Feb. 4.

“I was excited once I got a call from Corey Mace,” Carney says. “It kind of made things a lot easier in my decision-making.”

Although Mace and Carney were not employed by the same organization until Tuesday, when teams were first able to sign free agents, there wasn’t any evident need for an introduction.

Mace spent the 2022 and 2023 seasons as the Toronto Argonauts’ Defensive Co-ordinator.

“I knew about him from watching him down the street,” Carney says. “I’ve done my homework on him. He’s a great guy.

“Watching what Corey Mace does defensively, it was an easy move for me to make.”

Carney is also impressed by the organization as a whole, the stadium, and the team’s staunch supporters.

“I’ve always been intrigued by how involved the fans are, each and every game,” he says. “I’m looking forward to having them on my side now and getting some wins going.”