The Buckeyes went into the transfer portal after the 2022 season and signed eight players to bolster their depth chart. One of those players is third-year sophomore defensive tackle Tywone Malone, who came to Ohio State from Ole Miss. Malone was also on the Ole Miss baseball team, but is now focused solely on football.
Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson recruited Malone out of high school, and if it wasn’t for his desire to play baseball, the Buckeyes may have landed him the first time around. Malone attended Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey, and was the No. 120 player in the 2021 recruiting class.
What To Like
Tywone Malone is an athletic defensive lineman who actually spent most of his time at Ole Miss as a defensive end in a 3-man front. In high school, however, he was on the interior. Larry Johnson wants his defensive tackles to impact the passing game, so it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes use Malone’s 6-foot-4 and 315-pound frame.
Malone can certainly employ a bull rush, and his power will create issues. The nuances and secondary moves will improve with time and experience. When he gets free, he can cover a lot of ground in just a few steps. He has the kind of explosion that defensive line coaches love. Malone is a big lineman, so there’s a lot of him to block, but he is a fighter. (The highlights below are from his junior year. An injury cost him most of his senior season.)
Now that Tywone Malone is no longer split between two sports, he will be better able to reach his potential. He’s never had a spring football to work on technique or the minutiae of the position, so he’s a guy who could really explode in his last couple of years.
Malone has played all over the defensive line, so he’s had experience dealing with every manner of offensive lineman. Through it all, he has been able to use his size and strength to be a capable run defender. He is not just a guy who occupies blockers and walls up a lane. He keeps his head up and stays aware of where the ball is — and where it’s going.
Combine his comfort as a pass rusher with his control as a run stopper, and you’ve got a defensive tackle who could play on any set of downs.
The Buckeyes have three upperclassmen to spread around their two defensive tackle positions. Fourth-year junior Ty Hamilton, junior Tyleik Williams, and redshirt sophomore Mike Hall are all experienced and productive. Hall had moments of brilliance last year, and both Hamilton and Williams have done their share of flashing. But the Buckeyes will need more than just three defensive tackles this season.
To be that fourth tackle option, Tywone Malone will be contending with redshirt freshman Hero Kanu, fourth-year junior Jaden McKenzie, and true freshmen Will Smith, Kayden McDonald, and Jason Moore. The competition is wide open, but Malone is the most experienced of the group. In his 14 career games at Ole Miss, he posted 13 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks.
There may not be a ton of snaps available for any one tackle outside of the top three this season, but watch what happens with Malone after a full year with Larry Johnson.
The Bottom Line
The Buckeyes need more reliable depth on the defensive line this season, and Tywone Malone could be one of the surprises of camp and secure a significant role on this year’s defense. The more likely scenario, however, has Malone increasing his role and comfort level as the season goes on, and then being one of the most-talked about players during bowl prep.
It’s unlikely that Malone wants to wait that long to create conversation, so there’s no time like the present to get people talking. Malone is going to stand out because of his size, but it’s going to be his technique and discipline that keep him in good standing.
Previous Closer Look editions
Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz | Wide Receiver Carnell Tate | Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Wide Receiver Noah Rogers | Wide Receiver Bryson Rodgers | Tight End Jelani Thurman | Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Offensive Lineman Josh Simmons | Offensive Lineman Luke Montgomery | Offensive Lineman Joshua Padilla | Offensive Lineman Austin Siereveld | Defensive End Joshua Mickens | Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald | Defensive Tackle Jason Moore | Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr. | Cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter | Safety Jayden Bonsu | Safety Cedrick Hawkins