Ohio State’s 2021 football recruiting class secured a nice commitment Thursday afternoon, receiving a somewhat-surprising pledge from defensive tackle and SI All-American candidate Tyleik Williams out of Manassas, Va.
Williams, an athletic 6-foot-3, 300-pound specimen from Unity Reed High School, chose the Buckeyes from a previous top-six list in June that also included Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Alabama, LSU and South Carolina. Many consider him a top-200 player nationally.
Virginia Tech and North Carolina had long been considered the favorites to land Williams, but Ohio State apparently picked up steam late behind defensive line coach Larry Johnson and others (coaching staff, current commits) helping the cause. Williams lives roughly four hours north of both Blacksburg, Va. and Chapel Hill, N.C., but will instead venture seven hours the opposite way to Columbus.
"Coach Johnson is a legend when it comes to the defensive line and putting guys in the league," Williams said earlier this week to Rivals. "He knows what he's doing. They have a good program and they do a good job helping guys after school in real life. My mom was interested in that."
Williams was scheduled to visit Ohio State in April before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown, but he remained in contact with Johnson and started developing a strong relationship. His decision now gives the Buckeyes 19 commits in the class and bumps OSU back over Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the current national team rankings. The Crimson Tide had briefly taken over the top position this week after Ohio State held it for months.
The commitment from Williams is also important considering the Buckeyes recently lost heralded defensive end Tunmise Adeleye (Bradenton, Fla.) after he reopened his recruitment. Ohio State now has three 2021 defensive linemen locked up, as Williams joins standout edge prospect Jack Sawyer (Pickerington, Ohio) and interior tackle Mike Hall (Streetsboro, Ohio).
It will abe interesting to see how landing Williams impacts remaining elite defensive line targets J.T. Tuimoloau and Tywone Malone. Both are ranked among the best at their position group and right near the top of the recent Preseason SI99.