On Dec. 16, the the same day Ohio State signed one of the nation’s top-rated recruiting classes, Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic five-star defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau included the Buckeyes in his top five alongside Alabama, Oregon, Washington and USC.
The 6-5, 277-pound Tuimoloau is considered the second-best strong-side defensive end and No. 3 prospect overall in the class of 2022, as he recorded 64 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 11 sacks to lead the Crusaders to their second consecutive state title in 2019. He also hauled in 18 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns while playing tight end, including the game-winning score in the championship game.
Tuimoloau has never been to Columbus, but the Buckeyes are widely considered the favorite in his recruitment thanks to his relationship with defensive line coach Larry Johnson and freshman wide receiver Gee Scott, his former high school teammate. He’s also close with Steilacoom, Wash., five-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, who signed with Ohio State during the Early Signing Period.
Tuimoloau is expected to make his college decision on the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 3, though he doesn’t actually have to sign until April 1. Either way, he’ll have to decide without the luxury of official visits, as the ongoing recruiting dead period will run through at least April 15.
If he does ultimately choose Ohio State, Tuimoloau will join Pickerington (Ohio) North five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer; Streetsboro, Ohio, four-star defensive tackle Mike Hall; and Manassas (Va.) Unity Reed four-star defensive tackle Tyleik Williams in the Buckeyes’ 2021 recruiting class. He would also give the program signatures from six composite five-star prospects, which would tie the Crimson Tide for the national lead.
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