Two-sports athletes are a regular at the high-school level but a rare sight in college, much less the professional ranks.
Some of the greatest two-sport athletes of all time include Bob “Bullet” Hayes, a two-time Olympic champion sprinter and Hall of Fame NFL receiver, Bo Jackson, an MLB All-Star and NFL Pro-Bowler, Deion Sanders, who famously suited up for a football and baseball game in the same day, and, last but not least, Michael Jordan, whose crowning achievement was hitting .202 with three home runs for the AA Birmingham Barons!
Sorry, Jordan fans, the jokes have to come where they can— but what is not a joke is the rising stock of Ole Miss freshman, Tywone Malone, a soon-to-be household name.
Tywone Malone Dominates the Diamond and the Gridiron
Tywone Malone is a 6-foot-4, 315-pound 18-year-old from Jamesburg, New Jersey. A member of the high school class of 2021, Malone was ranked as the 11th-best defensive tackle and 63rd overall prospect in America. He was Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s highest-profile pull at Ole Miss and one of the most touted commits on National Signing Day.
Malone’s freakish athleticism did not only extend to football, however— he checked in as the 25th-best first baseman in high school, drawing interest from just as many Division-I programs as he did for his football prowess. Malone is following in the footsteps of predecessors running back Jerrion Ealy and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and playing both football and baseball at Ole Miss.
The Rebels’ baseball coach, Mike Bianco, could not help but marvel at Malone during the recruiting process.
“He’s a giant human being,” Bianco said, “but he’s a good-looking human being.”
The New Jersey native managed to draw this much buzz as a baseball player despite missing his senior season with an injury and most of his junior campaign due to COVID, thereby making his notoriety in both sports even more impressive.
Kiffin gave just as much credit to the baseball staff as his recruiting assistant for helping secure Malone’s landing, even going so far as to say that the baseball staff did more than his did during the recruiting process.
Creating a Legacy
The two-sport freak that is Tywone Malone did not see the field much in the fall, as is to be expected from an 18-year-old true freshman. He finished the season with three tackles, one solo, and one sack, all registered in a 54-17 victory against the Austin Peay Governors in the second week of the season.
Malone’s baseball career at Ole Miss has gotten off to a much hotter start, however, with the heavyweight slugger smashing a 404-foot, two-run blast in a game against Virginia Commonwealth University last Sunday. This was only Malone’s second at-bat of the year, the first being a strikeout two days prior against the same opponent.
Malone is not yet starting, nor a regular piece in the batting rotation, but his outrageous power was certainly on full display during his ridiculous shot over the weekend.
The sample size is small, but if the conversation is about making an impact, it is hard to beat three tackles and a sack in your only football game, as well as a two-run homer in one of your two plate appearances. The future is bright for the all-around athlete that is Ole Miss’ Tywone Malone.
Players such as Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady were all former MLB draft picks before deciding on playing in the NFL; it would be rare, perhaps totally unique, for a player of Malone’s size and position to transcend football and baseball and end up in the big leagues, but it is certainly a possibility and one of the most intriguing situations in college baseball.
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