Chris Mallee is a scout in the NIL/NFL Division at Wilson Management Alliance, a sports and entertainment agency representing top talent around the world.
Chris works directly with players and their families. He watches film to identify talented players, travels to games, and evaluates players in person. During the offseason, he helps his clients prepare for their pro days and the NFL Combine.
We had a chance to catch up with Chris for the first time in nearly three years. He shared the most overlooked part of being a scout, important traits a player should possess, and advice for student-athletes who want to play at the next level.
What does the day-to-day work of being a scout look like?
That’s a great question. I’ve always been someone who likes to utilize my 24 hours a day. Since college, I’ve always had different jobs; UPS, construction, painter, fire alarm technician, cook. The list goes on.
Now that I’m a scout, I’m just continuing to do what I’ve done for 10+ years on my own. Identify players who are talented on the field and who are always worldly individuals who move with purpose.
Travel is involved but most days, it’s communicating with my team and collaborating on how to be the best we can be for our current players and potential clients. The fall is busy with travel and watching film. The rest of the year is the “off-season” for football but it’s very active.
Overall, it’s a 24/7 365 job but I love it.
What is one overlooked aspect of being a scout that you didn’t expect?
One overlooked aspect is how many varying opinions there are on prospects. You have to be mentally tough to be in this business. Every year we see players who are “can’t miss” guys that end up falling off and being left behind without additional context to their situation.
One big thing the business lacks is empathy and just an overall disconnect from understanding that what these prospects are trying to do is remarkable but insanely difficult.
Luckily, my agency truly cares about its clients and we do whatever we can to set them up for success.
What are the most important traits you look for in a player?
I think the most important trait is finding someone who has a legitimate why. An overall reason why they wake up in the morning and pursue this impossible dream to be 1 of about 1,700 active NFL players out of 7.88 billion people on earth.
There has to be an underlying belief in oneself. Skills on the field are easy to evaluate for most, but truly understanding what motivates a player and looking for them to push past the breaking point in games where others would lay down, is what’s exciting.
What advice do you have for college athletes who want to play at the professional level?
Whether it’s college athletes or college students in general, I encourage them to always be themselves. Authenticity goes a long way nowadays.
Also, always keep in mind that you may need to cross back over a bridge, so spend more time strengthening them than burning them. Always be the bigger person.
Be early, not on time.
Work hard, but don’t do it for attention. Do it because you’re trying to better yourself and those around you. People will notice.
How do you approach an athlete about working together?
I’ve always been a people person. I don’t need to try to be genuine, because I am genuine. I’m very passionate about everything I do, especially when it comes to my players and doing right by them.
I never was at their level but I’m a former college athlete, so I understand the grind. I am respectful and tell them that once they’re with me, they’re family. They know they can hit me up 24/7 and I’ll answer. I’ll move mountains to make sure they’re happy and put them in a position to succeed.
I respect other agencies and they’re successful for a lot of reasons; however, it all starts with our owner, Damon Wilson. Damon is a former professional athlete and treats each player and employee like family.
Our clients know that’s the truth and that’s what separates us. With us, you’re not a number. You’re a priority at all times.
Backtracking a little bit: you’ve taken a unique path to get to where you are today. Can you give our readers a quick overview of your journey to becoming a scout?
It has been quite a journey and it’s just the beginning. You know I grew up in a small blue-collared town. From a young age, I always dreamed big. My friends know I’m a dreamer and that sometimes I “disappear” but that we’d always have something to celebrate after.
I loved sports for as long as I could remember, but I love people even more. Anyone who has met me knows I’m a people person and I can go up to anyone and start a conversation. At a young age, I’d show people videos of players and learn their backstories. It progressed to consistently building a following on Twitter by sharing my draft prospects and notes.
Even throughout college, while balancing school and track, I kept building my résumé and networking. I was set to pursue a career in teaching, but in a year’s time, I saw a lot of close friends and family members pass and it was a wake-up call. I didn’t want to go through life knowing I never pursued my dream.
The real turn of events was when my best friend John passed. He was my biggest supporter and I knew I had to go after this dream for both of us. So I went full go into draft content and did a plethora of jobs for years — UPS, painting, cooking, etc.
I finally got invited to the Senior Bowl, and after covering that event and consistently identifying NFL talent, things blew up for me. After consistently showing my ability to identify talent and networking for years, I was able to finally secure an interview with an NFL agency, Wilson Management Alliance.
Mark Gurenlian is their lead agent and the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to NIL. Damon Wilson is the CEO, and as genuine a person as you’ll meet. After a short time, I was hired and now I’m living my dream job.
Unfortunately, just a short time after, my grandmother passed. She was a huge supporter so I make sure to keep making her proud. Directly working with players and traveling to stadiums I’ve always wanted to see. It’s truly a dream come true.
How has NIL changed the sports landscape so far?
It is a double-edged sword. I think the players absolutely need to be taken care of but they need to be educated and protected. That’s why I’m thankful for our agency because we do things by the book and make sure our players and their families are always educated and up to date.
Overall, I think it’s good. But like anything, people can abuse it. These players deserve a chance to expand their brand and take care of themselves.
How can our readers support you?
Since day one, I have always appreciated your support. We’ve both grown side by side throughout the years. It’s been an awesome experience.
These players are truly inspiring and they have bright futures ahead of them, and I’m proud to know them and call them friends.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Chris – a fellow Springfield Delco native – for sharing his incredible journey with us! I’m inspired by what you’ve accomplished and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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