Ohio State has the number one recruiting class in the nation for the high school class of 2021 and they felt confident they would add one of the top offensive lineman in the country to their class. But on Friday afternoon, JC Latham made a verbal commitment to the University of Alabama to play for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
Latham's top five schools also included Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia and LSU.
Latham is perhaps the top offensive tackle in the country. The five-star recruit is a 6-foot-6, 270-pound left tackle from IMG Academy in Florida, after spending the beginning of his prep career at Catholic Memorial in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The decision is particularly disappointing for the Buckeyes because Latham admitted to SI All-American back in January that Ohio State and LSU were essentially his top two choices. He had over two dozen scholarship offers to choose from, but the Buckeyes and Tigers were at the top of his list.
"LSU and Ohio State are definitely my top two schools," Latham said. "Before I make a final decision I want to go to LSU. I really want to get to LSU and build a relationship with them. Same with Ohio State to see where that goes.
"I love them," he said about Ohio State. "They make me feel at home when I'm back there. I love the atmosphere, being around the coaches and the players for the Buckeyes."
Many expected that Latham would commit to Ohio State because he grew up in the Midwest.
"I think I'm coming towards the end," he told SI All-American. "I plan on committing April 18, it's my little younger sister's birthday."
The CoVID-19 pandemic likely played a role in the delay of his announcement, but there was no public reason for Buckeye fans to be fearful.
That's why Friday's announcement caught Ohio State fans by surprise.
Latham becomes the most important signing for Nick Saban's class so far. The Crimson Tide's 2021 class is ranked 28th nationally, which is well below what most fans have come to expect. Alabama hasn't had a recruiting class ranked outside the top-five in the country since 2007. That said, there are still six months before the end of the early signing period for the 2021 class.