Kiffin adds to Rebs’ stellar defensive haul with No. 5 national DT Tywone Malone
The next time Lane Kiffin is doing yoga, he might be expecting some good news once he finishes with his cobra, locust and half-frog poses.
Wednesday, Kiffin got some very good news after his flexibility session. The Ole Miss head coach was actually performing yoga when Tywone Malone of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic High School announced his intention to play football and baseball for the Rebels.
“I actually couldn’t find it (the announcement) on the computer,” Kiffin said. “I thought it was a little bit later, and so I actually was finishing up yoga and came out of it and I called (coach Chris) Partridge…saying, ‘Hey, I can’t find this thing.’ He goes, ‘He’s already coming.’ So I guess it was good luck I didn’t actually see it.”
That news had to be more relaxing than the hakini, low lunge or happy baby pose.
Not only is Malone the top player in New Jersey, but he is also rated as the fifth-ranked defensive tackle prospect in the nation. That is a position the Rebels have been seeking to upgrade.
Last season Ole Miss surrendered 38.3 points and 519 yards per game. Malone should certainly help improve those numbers, along with the rest of the signing class.
Kiffin: "Great players are backed up by great players. We're going to recruit & sign the best players in MS. Some years it will be more & some years it will be less. If we're going to be a national program…those programs don't just recruit their state. They recruit nationally."
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) February 3, 2021
“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.”
In his career at Bergen Catholic, Malone collected 111 tackles, 28 of them for losses and 14 sacks. Ole Miss signed him over programs like Texas A&M, Florida State, USC, Tennessee and Rutgers.
“He’s no secret,” Kiffin said when asked how he and the staff found this standout from New Jersey.
“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.“
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin on Tywone Malone
Shoring up the defense
Ole Miss shored up its defensive line in this year’s signing class signing six players.
“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.“
Coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin is not the only coach in Oxford who is happy today. Head baseball coach Mike Bianco has a smile on his face as Malone is a two-sport star and will also play baseball for Ole Miss.
“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.”
Coach Kiffin on Ole Miss baseball
The preseason No. 4 Rebels open baseball season Feb. 19 versus No. 10 Texas Christian at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas.
(Feature image courtesy of Tywone Malone’s trainer, Coach Leroy Thompson)