Ohio State football's Mitchell Melton expected to miss season with ACL injury

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Mitchell Melton (20) lines up during the spring football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on April 16, 2022.

Redshirt sophomore Mitchell Melton had emerged as an intriguing piece for Ohio State’s defense in spring practice.

As newly hired defensive coordinator Jim Knowles installed his scheme over the five weeks of practices, Melton stepped into a hybrid defensive end-linebacker position known as the “jack.”

The staff liked his length for the role as Melton stands 6-foot-3, and to complement his experience as a linebacker, he worked out with the defensive linemen to broaden his skillset needed for the role.

But Melton won’t ultimately get a crack there this fall.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day revealed to reporters Friday that Melton had injured an anterior cruciate knee ligament during the spring game, a setback that is expected to sideline him for next season.

As he discussed the prognosis for Melton, Day described it as a “long-term” one, though he stopped short of formally ruling him out for 2022.

Melton went down during the second quarter of the scrimmage last month while rushing quarterback Kyle McCord. He fell to the turf at Ohio Stadium as he sought to shed a block from right tackle George Fitzpatrick.

With the assistance of trainers, Melton limped off the field. It appeared as if he had aggravated his right knee as he stretched it during his walk to the locker room.

“The good news is we have great resources,” Day said, “and these guys are in good hands. The negative is it’s a long road back to recovery.”

Melton suffered a leg injury during spring practice last year that sidelined him for the following fall.

He has not seen the field since he was a freshman in 2020, appearing in one game on kickoff coverage.

Despite the limited playing time, Melton looked poised for a larger role as the “jack” and followed defensive end Jack Sawyer in the rotation at the position in the spring game.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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