If it seems like Angelo Madrigal is all over the field for Valparaiso, it's likely because he is.
The third-year starter excels at both inside or outside linebacker, leading the Vikings in tackles as a junior and again this year.
"He's got football sense. He understands the game," Valpo coach Dave Coyle said. "Being in the program, his knowledge of the defense, the style we run, he understands what we're thinking. We only have to tell him one time. It's like having another coach on the field."
Madrigal began inside last season and remained there through the first three games this year before Coyle moved him outside versus Michigan City. The Wolves, who had averaged 47.7 points per game, managed just seven on the Vikes.
"In a 4-4 (alignment), you need good defensive ends, good perimeter players," Coyle said. "We needed help with our force and he has the speed to recover. He's one of our better running backs, but we kind of stole him for the defensive side of the ball."
At 6-foot and 200 pounds, Madrigal knows he'll likely have to move to safety to realize his dream of Division I college football, and Akron is showing considerable interest. A wrestler in the winter and sprinter/high jumper in the spring, he has a physical skill set to function well in different spots.
"It's a lot of action, plus you get to hit people," Madrigal said of the linebacker position. "Inside, it's more runs. Outside, it's still runs, but you've got to be able to cover the flats. I think I'm a pretty good combination of the two."
Coyle's neighbor, Madrigal envisioned himself suiting up for the then-Valpo defensive coordinator and the Vikings from a young age.
"He's a smart guy when it comes to football," Madrigal said. "He teaches the game very well. I think our group takes on his demeanor -- intense, energetic. I call the plays, so when I see him clapping, it gets me excited. It makes me feel that we're doing our job and we need to keep doing it."
Madrigal saw the field enough as a freshman on the 2010 semistate team to letter. He started the '11 opener at Penn and has been a fixture since.
"I was scared, I'll be honest," he said. "After the first play, it wasn't so bad. I got better and better. It's a lot easier to read plays (now). I already know the plays, all the signs. It comes to me, no problem. I'm more zoned in. It's because of the group I'm with. As a sophomore, I knew the juniors and seniors, but I wasn't friends with them. We're all friends. It's one thing I'll end up missing after my senior year, not playing with friends again, my (partner in crime) Brody Crossin."
That familiarity has benefited a defense that has markedly improved since Penn tagged it for 49 points.
"We've been with each other from a young age," said Madrigal, whose dad Robert Kallok was a defensive tackle at E.C. Central. "All the seniors are leaders. We're so comfortable around each other. Everybody knows they have a job to do. I trust my teammates. I don't have to turn my back. I know somebody's there. I think we have as good if not better athletes than last year."
Coyle has leaned on Madrigal's experience and leadership to help the sophomores who have been cast into key roles, as he was two years ago.
"He's a tremendous competitor, very dependable," Coyle said. "I don't think he's ever missed a practice, which is amazing. The other kids want to be like him."
Given his background, Madrigal can appreciate the newbies' perspective.
"I just tell the sophomores everything's going to be all right," he said. "You're as good as anybody out there or you wouldn't be out there. Just play how you're taught."