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Ohio State’s top remaining defensive target announces Top 7 schools list

The Buckeyes make the cut for five-star defensive end

Five-star Eastside Catholic DE J.T. Tuimoloau
Brandon Huffman, 247Sports

With the calendar flipping to October, the Buckeyes path to getting back in Ohio Stadium is drawing closer and closer. This week offers the first full padded practice for the 2020 squad, and the season preparations are well under way as kickoff against Nebraska rapidly approaches. Ryan Day and his coaching staff know they have every bit of talent they need to succeed, but will continue to push their guys with only a few short weeks left to get ready.

While the priority right now is the current roster and the upcoming schedule, so too must be finishing up the 2021 recruiting class. Fortunately, the Buckeye coaching staff has both accounts set up for incredible success.

Five-star DE names Top 7 schools

Since the beginning, Ohio State has had their eyes set on 2021 stud J.T. Tuimoloau — a five-star defensive end prospect and the No. 2 player in the country overall out of Washington. A target that needs zero introduction, Tuimoloau has long been a name that Buckeye fans know very well.

Ranked as the No. 2 defensive end in the nation per the 247Sports Composite rankings, Tuimoloau’s play on the field is about as loud and dominating as you can get. On the recruiting trail, however, he is pretty quiet and keeps to himself. In fact, really the only insider that he speaks with is Brandon Huffman of 247Sports. A hard dude to get a true read on, the Buckeyes still have been very fortunate with the five-star talent. Thanks largely in part to position coach Larry Johnson and his track record of developing guys for the NFL each and every year, Tuimoloau seems to be leaning toward Columbus.

With Ohio State being the program thought to be the favorite to land Tuimoloau for some time now, we finally got a bit of an update on Thursday as he took to his Twitter account to announce his top seven schools he is still considering. Not one to use social media a ton, Tuimoloau’s announcement of a top schools list may not be a total shocker, but does show that he has still not yet come to a final decision.

To nobody’s surprise, Ohio State of course made the cut, alongside Alabama, Washington, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, and Oregon. As previously mentioned, a commitment is not expected any time soon, as the Eastside Catholic product has said he still plans to target the February signing period to make his final call and to hopefully use January as the time to make visits to his top schools if the NCAA allows him to do so.

Tuimoloau wants to do his due diligence and not rush the process. Of course if the NCAA didn’t extend the recruiting dead period for what seems like the hundredth time now, the visits could have happened already and he may already be committed — but that’s not how it has gone. The good news here is that the Buckeyes have Larry Johnson and a great sales pitch that if Tuimoloau were to come to Columbus for his college years, it would basically be a training camp for the NFL if all goes to plan.

Right now Ohio State is the clear leader in Crystal Ball predictions per the 247Sports feature — holding four of the five total predictions — but will still have to hold on a little while longer before anything is official. Even still, as a fan of the Buckeyes you should feel good about the program’s current standing with the highly touted edge rusher.

The next in line for 2021?

A name that is seemingly in the headlines each day now in regards to Ohio State recruiting, Zen Michalski out of Floyds Knobs, Indiana is once again a topic of discussion. Mentioned earlier this week, Michalski, a four-star offensive tackle who had been a Louisville Cardinals commit since April of this year, has now re-opened his recruiting process as he announced his decommitment from Louisville this past Monday.

Ohio State has made it no secret that they would like another offensive lineman in their class to have a bit more breathing room in terms of depth. With Michalski being the main priority right now outside of the thought to be long-shot five-star Tristan Leigh, the Buckeyes have some serious good vibes that they’ll once again pull a guy into their class when they were already committed elsewhere.

The Buckeyes do seem like the clear frontrunners now, and on Thursday Michalski dropped his top four schools, which included Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, and Louisville. According to a follow up tweet shortly after posting the list to Twitter, Michalski announced that he will be making his decision on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. (assumedly ET).

While going with a top four may be interesting, it really feels like a one horse race as the Buckeyes appear to have all of the momentum right now. In fact, current Ohio State commit Jordan Hancock, as well as a few other fellow commits in the 2021 class, took to Twitter to let Buckeye Nation know that big news is coming soon. Maybe it’s not related, but you get the general impression that Hancock was referring to the possible commitment of Michalski in the near future — which we now know will likely be Saturday.

As Ryan Day and his staff try to hammer down the few remaining spots in the 2021 class, Michalski seems like a pretty safe bet to be the next in line.