By The Curtain Guy:
Recruiting is the gift that keeps on giving. Is it a tad strange to concern ourselves with the life choices of 17 year olds? Maybe… but recruiting is the life blood of programs and today’s high schoolers are tomorrow’s superstars.
With the early signing day in December, many of the top recruits in each class have already committed, with the remainder committing on National Signing Day in early February. However, for a select few, they choose to extend their recruitment past those days to confirm that they are making the best decision for themselves and their future.
Such is the case for five star J.T. Tuimoloau. The strong side defensive end out of Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Washington is top five in almost everyone’s rankings (#6 on Rivals, but we won’t go in to whatever the hell they’re doing) and has been offered by two dozen of the country’s top programs. Below, I will breakdown the top contenders for Tuimoloau and predict where I think he’ll end up.
Alabama: As does everything else in the world of college football, recruiting battles for the top players in America run through Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban has once again outdone himself, putting together the highest rated class of all time according to 247 Sports, topping the 2010 Florida Gator class. Never satisfied, he looks to put the cherry on top of this ridiculous haul with JTT. The Tide are right in the thick of this one after making a significant push in the past months and are expected to get one last visit from him once the NCAA lifts the dead period in April. If they can impress, they have a chance to unseat Ohio State for the driver’s seat in this one.
Ohio State: Larry Johnson. That’s it, that’s all you need to know about the Buckeye’s chances. The last couple of NFL Drafts have looked like an Ohio State infomercial with Chase Young, Nick and Joey Bosa, Sam Hubbard, and even Tyquan Lewis all making themselves household names. Coach Johnson is looking to continue that long list of defensive lineman in the league with the addition of already enrolled Jack Sawyer (#3 composite SDE) and JTT. The Buckeyes currently hold 100% of the crystal balls on 247 and 90% of the future casts on Rivals. His former teammate, Gee Scott Jr, is finishing up his freshman year in Columbus. His friend and local Washington star, Emeka Egbuka, just enrolled for spring ball for the Buckeyes. Hell, Tuimoloau is even being compared to former Buckeye great, Cameron Heyward. But have they done enough to hold off the Tide down the stretch? Only time will tell but you have to like the Buckeye’s chances here.
Oregon: Mario Cristobal has done a phenomenal job transforming the Ducks culture and shifting their focus away from a speed only team. The last couple of recruiting classes UO has pulled in have been focused on the big boys in the trenches and it shows on the field. With the addition of players like Kayvon Thibodeaux (#2 WDE in 2019), Keyon Ware-Hudson (#19 DT in 2019), and Jayson Jones (#32 DT in 2020), coach Joa Salave’a is putting together a formidable front four. Should JTT choose to stay out west, I believe it would be Oregon that he lands with.
USC: After putting together an abysmal 64th ranked recruiting class in 2020, the Trojans have come roaring back with the 8th ranked class in 2021 thanks to the addition of players like Korey Foreman (#1 SDE), Raesjon Davis (#4 OLB), and Ceyair Wright (#6 CB). Adding Tuimoloau would push them to the sixth ranked class and tops in the Pac-12. While this would be a phenomenal way to end the class, I think USC is also on the outside looking in.
Washington: The hometown Huskies have always been in this race, just not always in the thick of it. The state has produced some high end talent with the likes of Emeka Egbuka (#1 WR in 2021), Gee Scott Jr (#10 WR in 2020), Sav’ell Smalls (#3 WDE in 2020) and Tuimoloau. They have been able keep a good number of them home but have missed on a handful, including two of the above to the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, as we come down the home stretch in this recruitment, UW will find themselves on the outside looking in for another in state blue chip recruit.
PREDICTION: This recruitment is ultimately going to come down to Ohio State and Alabama, the two schools Tuimoloau is set to visit once the dead period restrictions are lifted by the NCAA. JTT is an extremely bright kid and is doing his due diligence, as he should. He is a day one starter and provides immediate depth and talent for either defense. Either one can provide him a clear path to the NFL, but only one will provide the comfort and relationships that ultimately lands his services.
Curtain Call: Ohio State