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Malcolm Pridgeon Heads Into Spring with Starting Right Tackle Spot in His Crosshairs
By Tony Gerdeman
Redshirt junior Malcolm Pridgeon has sights set on starting in 2017.
Photo by Jim Davidson

One year ago on signing day Urban Meyer was asked about offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon, whom the Buckeyes had just signed in the 2016 class from Nassau Community College, and Meyer's response was simple.

"We don't recruit a junior college guy to sit," he said.

The thought was that with two open tackle spots on the offensive line, Pridgeon could come in and compete immediately for a starting spot.

With fall camp underway and the competition in its early stages, however, Pridgeon injured his knee and ended his season before he even had a chance to make good on the potential that he brought to Ohio State.

While the injury was a tough blow to handle, Pridgeon looks back on his lost 2016 season now as a positive.

"It was devastating," he said of his knee injury. "But I look at it as a blessing each and every day because I got in late spring, so it gave me time to learn the offense, develop a good relationship with my teammates and the coaches, and to this point I feel like I achieved all those goals now. The next step is to get back on the field for spring ball and take over that starting spot."

Pridgeon declared himself 80-90% healthy during bowl practices. He expects to be 100% recovered this winter, and emphasized that he would be ready to go in the spring.

While last season didn't go his way physically, Pridgeon did everything else he could do to have a positive impact on the team, and that effort was rewarded during bowl practices when he finally had his black stripe removed.

"That was an amazing moment to be welcomed into the family," he said. "Even though I wasn’t able to show the team what I could do on the field, I was always on time in meeting rooms, the first one to answer questions, always on time for the weight rooms, always in rehab. Doing everything I could to bring value to the team."

Even though he considers himself an offensive tackle, Urban Meyer has already talked to him about the need for the five best players to play, which could mean that somebody isn't in their preferred spot. The Buckeyes do have a right guard spot wide open right now, and Pridgeon could find himself involved there as well.

"I was talking about it with Coach Meyer," he said. "I’m definitely a tackle all the way but gotten aware of all five positions, which I feel I can master."

Starting tackles Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince both return in 2017, and while Jones is in no danger of losing his spot, there are those who believe Prince could find himself in a battle with Pridgeon to retain his starting right tackle position.

As a true sophomore last season, Prince had his ups and downs, with his downs much more magnified than his ups. Everybody in the football program expects Prince continue making significant progress on his path to the 2017 season. After all, it's pretty rare for a true sophomore to start on the offensive line at Ohio State. Still, if Pridgeon convinces the staff he will have fewer "downs" than Prince, things will get interesting.

Despite the setback last season, Pridgeon is happy to be where he is, even without a starting spot to his name yet.

"It’s definitely a blessing to be a Buckeye," he said. "I never saw myself coming here coming out of junior college, but coming here the training staff, the players, the coaches, they accepted me with open arms."

Player profiles relevant to story:
59 - Prince, Isaiah | 66 - Pridgeon, Malcolm
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