Malik Barrow thought his career was over.
Ohio State was all Barrow knew as a college athlete. The former No. 63 player in the Top247 during the 2016 cycle, Barrow figured he’d be a three-and-done prospect in Columbus. That’s what the coaches told him was possible. Instead, he suffered a second ACL tear in three seasons against UNLV during the fourth game of his redshirt freshman campaign in 2017. After a long rehab, Barrow decided to medically retire at Ohio State in October of last year. But he never stopped thinking about football.
“A lot of people face a lot of adversity in their careers,” Barrow told 247Sports. “I learned a lot from guys like Tiger Woods and (Rob) Gronkowski. Those type of dudes have been through all types of injuries. It’s like how bad do you want it? That’s what my mentality has been like ever since they told me I couldn’t play here. I never stopped training and trying to play football. That whole retirement situation was more of a medical hardship thing with Ohio State. That didn’t mean I was done playing football.”
Barrow placed his name in the transfer portal on Oct. 15 – the first day the portal opened. Since then he’s continued to rehab in Columbus while sending his medical information and tape to interested programs.
There were a lot of questions at first about Barrow’s injury history, but schools have started to clear him for potential football activities. Barrow said his “body feels good.”
Still an intriguing talent, Barrow hasn’t lacked for suitors. He visited Penn State in April, and the Nittany Lions have stayed in contact with him. Barrow said he hopes to set up a visit to Indiana soon, and Virginia’s also been in heavy communication with the IMG Academy product.
Barrow isn’t limiting his options to Power Five schools. He said fit and path to playing time are critical factors in his decision the second time around. Barrow’s drawn plenty of interest from MAC programs in Ohio like Bowling Green and the Bobcats. Buffalo has shown a lot of interest as well. Barrow said he could also visit FCS schools Jacksonville State and Wagner when he starts to take more trips later this month.
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle will graduate later this semester with a degree in communications. Barrow said he hopes to have a new school selected at some point in June.
Like so many athletes who’ve fought through injuries over the years, Barrow wants a fresh start.
“I’m getting stronger every day,” Barrow said. “I’m just trying to find the place that has the best opportunity for me to shine. I’ve just got to look at depth charts to see how I fit and figure out how they plan to use me.
“The time is now. My body feels good. I know my talent and I know what I can do on the field if I get the right opportunity and get put in the right position. I’m very confident right now.