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Buckeyes top remaining target cuts list to final five schools

Ohio State makes the cut for a five-star 2021 target.

Five-star 2021 SDE J.T. Tuimoloau
247Sports

With the start of the Early Signing Period for the class of 2021 yesterday, the Buckeyes staff had all eyes glued to the fax machine early Wednesday morning. As the class currently sits at No. 2 overall in the country, the signatures rolled in at a record pace with basically every player signing before the sun came up. An incredible feat for Ohio State, it made for a rather stress-free morning considering every player in the class currently is now locked in.

A big hats off to Ryan Day, Mark Pantoni, and the rest of the staff for their incredible work to bring in an elite group that only trails Alabama in the rankings by the slimmest of margins. From here on, the staff will shift their focus to landing at most a couple more prospects for the 2021 class, but most of the attention of course is looking to the 2022 cycle — which is off to a record start.

Though it’s unlikely the Buckeyes can top Alabama in the recruiting rankings simply due to the number of prospects committed, this class is something to be more than proud of. The future in Columbus is as bright as it’s ever been.

Top five announced for J.T.

Even with a historical class set in stone yesterday, the Buckeyes know they still have a bit of unfinished business to do in the 2021 cycle as they are still trying to fill one or two remaining spots.

It’s no secret by any means that one of those spots is reserved for Washington native J.T. Tuimoloau. The nation’s third best prospect overall per the 247Sports Composite rankings and the top player in the eyes of 247Sports has long been an Ohio State target, and now that the Buckeyes’ 21 commits in 2021 are signed, the full attention of the staff can be put on sealing the deal.

Ohio State has long been thought to be the frontrunner to land the five-star prospect from Eastside Catholic in large part due to Larry Johnson and what he can do to prepare Tuimoloau for the NFL. Fortunately, J.T.’s high school is the same same prep program that produced current Buckeye Gee Scott Jr., and so he can potentially lean on his former teammate to help him see why Ohio State is the best choice for him and answer any questions he may have since he’s never been to campus.

In addition, the most recent addition to Ohio State’s class, Emeka Egbuka, has said it himself that his mission is to get Tuimoloau to join him as a Buckeye, looking to make it a successful double dip of Ohio State poaching Washington’s two best players. With the two being close friends since they were young kids, it gives you confidence in Ohio State’s chances.

Yesterday, after all of the signing day festivities in relation to Ohio State, Tuimoloau announced his final five schools he will be choosing from. Making the cut included Ohio State, Alabama, Washington, Oregon, and USC. The Buckeyes likely still have the lead here, and that’s the same feeling that most if not all of the people in the know also have.

The plan for some time now has been for Tuimoloau to wait it out and sign with his school of choice in February, and while there’s work to be done, Ohio State is in a great spot right now and looks to close the deal in the coming months further, cementing this as one of the great classes in program history.

Two months to make up ground?

There may not be a prospect that has been as tough to follow in regards to Ohio State recruiting in this 2021 cycle than five-star offensive tackle prospect, Tristan Leigh. The 11th-best player nationally and the fourth best OT has been linked to Ohio State for months now, but it’s been a roller coaster to try and grasp the actual chances the Buckeyes have at landing the Virginia native. He’s long included the Buckeyes in his top list of schools, but in reality Leigh has had the Buckeyes as a clear second or third option.

Being from Virginia, Leigh is not far enough away from Columbus that makes visiting the campus impossible. Let’s face it, he’s been to LSU and Oklahoma multiple times, but hasn’t been back to see the Buckeyes and what Ohio State has to offer. Taking into consideration that he wouldn’t be allowed to see the staff right now if he were to visit is certainly something to take note of, but he obviously can’t meet with the staff at other programs either, which makes it pretty telling where Leigh’s real interest is at.

Sure, this may be the wrong opinion or outlook on things, but if Leigh really was still considering Ohio State, you would think he’d want to at least get back to campus once to get an idea of his potential future.

Yesterday, the plans for Leigh unfolded a bit as he does not plan to sign with anyone until the February signing date. However, it is still the plan for him to commit the school of his choice this coming January. All this means is that there’s basically still a shortened amount of time for the programs vying for his signature to make their best cases for why he should choose them.

Sure, Ohio State would love nothing more than to land a top-ranked offensive tackle, as that is a position of need every year. Moving forward, it would be safe to assume that Oklahoma has the best chances of landing Leigh, with Ohio State, LSU, and others likely in the rearview as second options. With time though, anything can change. Ohio State may still be in this at least somewhat, but if you’re following this one at all, you know what to expect.