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How J.T. Tuimoloau’s Commitment Impacts Ohio State’s 2021 Recruiting Class

A look at what Tuimoloau will bring to the Buckeyes both on and off the field.

Ohio State landed the biggest commitment of the Ryan Day era on Sunday afternoon when Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic five-star defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau picked the Buckeyes over finalists Oregon, USC and Washington

The 6-foot-5 and 277-pound Tuimoloau, who is considered the second-best defensive lineman and No. 3 prospect overall in the class of 2021, now becomes the highest-rated defensive player to ever sign with Ohio State, surpassing his classmate, Pickerington (Ohio) North five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer.

He’s also the fourth highest-rated commit in program history, trailing only 2022 Southlake (Texas) Carroll five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers and former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who signed with the Buckeyes as part of the class of 2008 and 2004, respectively.

So what makes Tuimoloau, who was also a star basketball player and played tight end on the 7-on-7 circuit, so special?

“HIs size, strength and athleticism allow him to be effective both standing up and with his hand down,” said SI-All American director of recruiting John Garcia, who first caught a glimpse of Tuimoloau as an eighth-grader. “He can convert speed to power with ease as a pass-rusher, as well as set an edge, anchor and shed blocks in the run game.

“Given Tuimoloau’s natural athleticism, general movement skill plays out with ease on tape. It shows up off the snap while on defense, after the catch on offense and certainly while playing laterally, vertically or transitioning on the basketball court. There are strong clear situational awareness, redirecting ability and ball skill traits at his disposal.”

Due to his size, some have projected Tuimoloau to move inside to defensive tackle during the course of his college career. He carries his weight well, though, which is why he will start his career with the Buckeyes on the outside opposite Sawyer.

“It’s hard to imagine a prospect carrying the considerable weight he does,” Garcia said, “(but) his pursuit of the passer comes off easily because of his combination of size, power, agility and body control in the wash as much as in space.”

Despite being one of the top-rated players in the country, Tuimoloau is still somewhat raw as a defensive end. He must continue to work on his technique, but his overall vision and violent hands are what give him elite potential.

“If there was to be a high school-only draft, there wouldn’t be many selections before Tuimoloau heard his name called,” Garcia said. “He's the complete package up at a position so elite in nature coaches can build the entire defense around it.”

As for where he fits into the class, Tuimoloau couldn’t have arrived at a better time for the Buckeyes.

In fact, while the defensive end position might be the deepest on the current roster, it could very well lose Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptiste to the NFL after this season. That’s why the staff also pursued Cheshire (Conn.) Academy four-star Wilfredo Aybar, though he ultimately reclassified to the class of 2021 and committed to Stanford last month.

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That said, expect Tuimoloau to break into the rotation as a true freshman this fall and then have a significant impact for Ohio State in 2022.


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