Ohio State has been cut from the race for a player who had been a priority for several months in the 2021 class.
Four-star Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) prospect Tywone Malone released a list of his final six schools, cutting the Buckeyes from his previous list of top 14 colleges as USC, Rutgers, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida State and Texas A&M each made Malone's final list.
Malone, the country's No. 55 overall player and No. 5 defensive tackle, is also a standout baseball prospect, and his desire to pursue a dual-sport career in college by playing football and baseball have been well-known factors in his recruitment for more than a year. In analysis by 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong, the network's director of recruiting wrote that those six programs “recruited him the best in both sports.”
The 6-foot-3 1/2, 300-pound Malone has also filled out around 10 Major League Baseball questionnaires as the first baseman hit over 15 home runs this summer playing in huge showcase tournaments like East Coast Pro and the Area Code Games.
The writing has been on the wall for the Buckeyes to be on the outside looking in for a while now. Larry Johnson and crew picked up a commitment from four-star Virginia defensive tackle Tyleik Williams on Aug. 27.
Though defensive tackle is one of the Buckeyes' biggest positional needs in the 2021 cycle, the Williams commitment – which happened pretty much out of the blue – was a fairly strong sign that Malone was no longer considering Ohio State as seriously as he had been previously. Williams is expected to play nose tackle for the Buckeyes, which is the same spot that Malone is expected to play at the next level.
Even though the Buckeyes are still the No. 1 contender right now for five-star prospect J.T. Tuimoloau (which we wrote about earlier on Monday), it doesn't appear that Malone's decision to cut Ohio State from his list has as much to do with Tuimoloau (who has the versatility to also play defensive tackle) as it does his desire to also play baseball at the next level.
With or without Malone in the class, I still expect the Buckeyes to pursue signing at least two defensive tackles in the 2022 cycle, so I don't think that will change based on Malone's decision.