With Community College Origins, Malcolm Pridgeon Is Soaking In Every Moment As Ohio State's Starting Left Guard

By Derrick Webb on September 5, 2018 at 9:19 pm
Malcolm Pridgeon

It's been said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Malcolm Pridgeon's college football journey started with a leap of faith, and proceeded to turn into a dream come true.

Pridgeon, a fifth-year senior at Ohio State, started his football journey in Central Islip, New York, where he often walked nearly four miles to practice each day because he didn't have a parent to drive him — his father passed away when he was 11 before his mother endured both a heart attack and stroke.

Still, Pridgeon prevailed.

After graduating high school, Pridgeon's next stop was at Nassau Community College, just a 34-minute drive from his alma mater. There, he turned into one of the nation's top junior college prospects.

Before he knew it, the 6-foot-7, 311-pound guard had more than 30 scholarship offers on the the table. He narrowed that number down to two, between Ohio State and Baylor, and eventually became a Buckeye.

He wasn't done facing obstacles yet.

After arriving in Columbus as a junior, Pridgeon suffered a knee injury in camp, forcing him to use a medical redshirt.

But still, Malcolm Pridgeon prevailed.

"It was definitely a heart-breaker," Pridgeon said. "But the great coaches in this program just helped me bounce back, get rehab and come in and watch film. Having them in my corner has been a blessing."

As a redshirt junior in 2017, Pridgeon played in all 14 games for Ohio State and a career-high 41 snaps in the Buckeyes' win over Illinois, but didn't start a game.

Pridgeon finally got the opportunity he needed, though, when his roommate Michael Jordan was moved to center this summer.

"Saturday was an amazing feeling. It's a feeling that I always knew was going to come. I just took a long route (to get there)."– Malcolm Pridgeon

"I did look at it as an opportunity in camp," he said. "I knew that, this summer, I had to get in my playbook and really, really grind it out. That's what I did."

And it paid off – big-time.

Pridgeon was named the Buckeyes' starting left guard heading into the team's season opener against Oregon State.

"Coach (Greg) Studrawa told me I was having a great camp and I found out then," Pridgeon said. "My emotions were just boiling inside of me but I just couldn't ... I just had to bull up like a man because I knew I had a lot of responsibility."

When he found out, one of the first people he told was Jordan.

"I was surprised to hear and, of course, I told my roommate Michael Jordan," he said. "He's been through so much with me. We've been through so much together."

In Pridgeon's first career start in Columbus, the Buckeyes ran wild, scoring 77 points and racking up 721 yards — second most in school history.

"Saturday was an amazing feeling," Pridgeon said. "It's a feeling that I always knew was going to come. I just took a long route (to get there)."

Jordan said it was special for him, too, to have his close friend lined up next to him on Saturday.

"It just makes me really happy," Jordan said. "Malcolm, he’s my roommate, and he’s been my roommate the last two years, and to see him grow and finally start to accomplish one of his dreams, it just makes me happy.”

Pridgeon's left guard spot was, of course, Jordan's before he moved to center. When asked how Jordan handled him taking his place, Pridgeon flashed a smile and said, "He was fine. As long as he was staying on the field, he was cool."

Now, the 1-0 Buckeyes readies to face Rutgers at 3:40 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium. While the team prepares for the Scarlet Knights, one thing is for sure: No. 66 isn't taking anything for granted.

If you're looking for him, he'll be the offensive lineman with the big smile on his face.

"My journey has been a long one. But I've had great coaches that stuck with me through the whole struggle," Pridgeon said. "They pushed me every summer, every off day ... even through the season last year when I had my injury, just to get better and keep a positive mindset."

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