Ohio State’s newest commitment came as a bit of a shock to, well, just about everyone outside Ohio State’s staff and the commitment himself, Grant Toutant. The Michigan product is a low four-star, and a long time Penn State pledge that didn’t seem particularly likely to leave that class, given that Penn State was one of his first offers back when he was a low three-star.
The flip did come, however, late last night. Now that we’ve had some time to decompress and watch the tape, let’s take a look at who Toutant is as a player, and what Ohio State fans should expect once he dons the scarlet and gray.
On the field
The first thing that pops on Toutant’s tape is his size. I have no doubts that he’s a legitimate 6-foot-7, 300-pounder. He wears it pretty well, given the fact that 6-foot-7, 300 pounds is enormous for a high schooler. By wears it well, I mean two things: firstly, he doesn’t look sloppy, or out of shape. Three-hundred pounds can be very good or very bad for a high school lineman, and it’s obvious that this is good weight.
Secondly, Toutant moves really well. He’s quick, has a good first step, and can do some pretty serious damage down the field, which is pretty rare for tackles. Usually the better athletes on the line stay inside, but Toutant is one of those unique combinations of immense size and athletic ability that I think we’ll see a lot of during the Ryan Dya era.
What does that mean in a tangible, on the field prospective? Well, it means that Toutant has a bunch of potential, because he isn’t going to be limited by a lack of athleticism. He has a good frame, and he moves well, which essentially means that he can be easily molded and coached to fit into what Ohio State wants from their tackles, which is generally someone large but not too large to limit movement.
So, what’s the downside? Toutant isn’t a five star, which means he does have some issues, and in this case, the issues are mostly revolving around one thing: Toutant plays in an option offense. That’s not uncommon for high school linemen (I’d wager that at least half of Ohio State’s current linemen played in a primarily option high school offense), but it is still something that makes things a bit more difficult on coaches. Because it’s an option offense, Toutant has very little experience with pass protection.
That can be good and bad. It’s bad, obviously, because entering college without experience in one of the two blocking styles means that Toutant will probably need two years minimum before he’s ready to play (example: Josh Myers). It’s good, however, because it means that Toutant hasn’t had time to develop bad habits, which can happen extremely easily with young linemen. He doesn’t have poor leverage or bad feet or anything like that, because he hasn’t had the chance to establish those bad habits. With professional, high level coaching, Ohio State can avoid that entirely and have a much more refined product—it’ll just take a few years.
If Toutant’s development does go well, and the coaching staff is able to teach him up in the passing game, Toutant has the ability to be a multiple year starter for Ohio State. I don’t see him as an ultra-elite talent, but he could be very good, especially in Ohio State’s quick pass system, where the quarterback can cover up for some of his line’s weaknesses.