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Ole Miss Football Inks Top 50 Prospect, Rises to No. 17 in Recruiting Class Rankings

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss football staff was eyeing a top-flight defensive prospect in the late signing period, and Lane Kiffin and Co. got their man Wednesday afternoon when the nation’s No. 5 defensive tackle prospect, Tywone Malone, announced for the Rebels live on ESPN2.

“We were very excited about the initial class of 24 players who were actually signed, including some other players,” Kiffin said. “To add one today, a top 50 player in the country…I’m sure whatever rankings, this is a top-20 class, whatever that means. Most importantly, we got a great player today.”

Malone is rated as the No. 5 defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals, as well as the top prospect out of the state of New Jersey regardless of position. ESPN ranks Malone, an Under Armour All-American, as the No. 45 overall prospect in the nation. He selected Ole Miss over Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida State, USC and Rutgers among many more offers.

“He’s no secret,” Kiffin said. “I think he got offers from everyone in the country. We went down to the wire with some big-time, great programs. Coach Chris Partridge did a great job. Marquise Watson helped him as well. Obviously great connections up there from Bergen Catholic. I think the last player we signed out of Bergen Catholic was Brian Cushing (at USC). If he can play anything like Cushing did, we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Malone also earned Sports Illustrated All-American honors after massing 111 tackles, including 28 for a loss and 14 sacks, over his high school career. A two-sport star out of Bergen Catholic, Malone will also play baseball in Oxford.

“He is not just a great football player but a great baseball player too, so we can continue the relationship of having kids play two sports, which we definitely are about. I think it’s great for them and it’s great for the university like John Rhys Plumlee and Jerrion Ealy do. You usually just don’t find 325-pounders who do it, but we happened to find one,” Kiffin said. “It’s one thing to have a great baseball program that wins. It’s another thing to have one that wins and wins with style and has a crowd like they do at baseball games. These kids know about it around the entire country. The baseball staff was unbelievable in the recruitment.”

Malone’s signing solidifies the Rebels’ top-20 class. After the addition of the big man up front, the 2021 Ole Miss class moved to No. 17 in the Rivals team rankings. Of the Rebels’ 25 signees, 13 come with a 4-star rating.

Malone is now one of six defensive linemen in the Rebel class, joining fellow freshmen JJ HawkinsTaleeq Robbins and Demarcus Smith, along with junior college transfers Jamond Gordon and Isaiah Iton. In total, 14 of the Rebels’ 25 signees for the 2021 class are on the defensive side of the ball.

“We obviously needed defense,” Kiffin said. “So this fits into the 14 defensive players that we’ve signed—10 which are already here, which is huge. They’re already training. They’re going to have spring ball to create immediate competition at those spots. That’s a lot of players—14 plus some quality walk-ons. And they’re all defensive linemen and DBs. That will be an awesome first spring and for our own current players to be motivated knowing there are great players coming in to take their spots. If we’re going to be a national program, that’s what we’ve got to do.”