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It has long been understood that defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau of Eastside Catholic High School in Washington would not commit anywhere until he could visit campuses, even if that meant putting off his decision until the summer. Every time the recruiting dead period was extended, it pushed back his timeline.
That dead period will end on June 1, and over the next month, the nation’s No. 3 player and No. 2 strongside defensive end will take trips to OSU along with three other schools, according to 247Sports’ Brandon Huffman.
His tour will first keep him in his home state as he’ll be on Washington’s campus from June 4-6. Then he’ll head to USC June 14-16 before making his way to Columbus from June 18-20 before heading to Oregon on June 20-22. He’ll close out his visit schedule at Alabama June 25-27.
The Buckeyes have long been the favorite to land Tuimoloau, and Huffman’s held that stance with his crystal ball even if his confidence isn’t high. The Crimson Tide will have the last say, but his visit with OSU will have plenty of benefits that can help keep momentum — no matter how small — on its side.
There are 51 people taking official visits to Ohio State this month. The group coming on June 18 is the smallest of the bunch, with only four others coming and Tuimoloau being the only defensive linemen of the group.
Basically, Larry Johnson will get plenty of time with him as he looks to pair the Washington native with Jacks Sawyer. Doing so would give OSU two of the top three defensive ends in the country — Korey Forman signed with USC — and three top 10 players along with wide receiver Emeka Egbuka.
This might be the best date for the Buckeyes to make the biggest impact, even if that means Alabama gets the final word. While there are advantages to that, it doesn’t lessen their chances. They were in a similar situation with Egbuka, a Washington native and good friends with Tuimoloau.
Egbuka was favored to Ohio State for months as he put off his commitment until five days before Signing Day. He was adamant about seeing every school on the top of his list and didn’t feel comfortable until that happened. He took a self-guided visit to Oklahoma one week before announcing his commitment and still ended up a Buckeye.
Regardless of if OSU lands Tuimoloau or not, it won’t change its position as the No. 2 class in the country behind Alabama. But in a battle that seems to be between Columbus and Tuscaloosa, a win will either further the final gap between the two classes or provide a significant win for the Buckeyes. One that becomes more apparent with Nick Saban landing Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams and winning the fight for Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o.
“We’re we’re obviously always looking for if there’s any high school seniors still go out there as well as transfers,” director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said. “In so both cases, if there’s one that will help the roster, we’ll definitely bring them in on visits and definitely explore every opportunity we have for sure.”
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