The NCAA has continued its suspension of all in-person recruiting through July 31, meaning the class of 2021’s uncommitted prospects must make a decision. Do they want to wait things out and visit schools before announcing their commitment? Many of them have expressed that visiting schools is a non negotiable for them, however the timeline for when they’ll be allowed to do so is unclear.
Or, do they want to say ‘to hell with in-person visits,’ and commit during the dead period?
Bucknuts recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic spoke to many of the 2021 prospects the Buckeyes are still pursuing and/or valuable sources who have knowledge of the prospect’s recruitment, asking them what their plans are for the extended dead period. Here’s what he found out about some of Ohio State’s top targets.
J.T. Tuimoloau — Five-star SDE, Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, WA)
Considering Tuimoloau is the No. 2 overall prospect and defensive end in the country, it goes without saying that he is at the top of Ohio State’s list of 2021 targets.
The 6-foot-5, 277-pound defensive end is still focused on five schools— Alabama, Ohio State, Stanford, USC and Washington. 247Sports Crystal Ball favors Ohio State (90%) with a “medium” confidence level.
Kurelic— who is one of the four analysts to put in a Crystal Ball in favor of Ohio State— had this to say about Tuimoloau:
“...in the case of Tuimoloau I would not be surprised if he waited until at least sometime in early January to announce his college choice.
I have Crystal Balled J.T. Tuimoloau to Ohio State. But as I have said, there is a long way to go on this one and I see USC as a big challenger and Washington in the hunt too. And in both cases the Buckeyes have to win out over family considerations. In the case of USC, Tuimoloau has a lot of family in southern California.”
Emeka Egbuka— Five-star WR, Steilacoom (Steilacoom, WA)
Egbuka—the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver and Washington’s No. 2 overall prospect (Tuimoloau is the state’s No. 1)—is still deciding between Washington, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma.
However, out of the nine total Crystal Ball predictions he currently has, eight of them are for Ohio State with an average of 7 (high) on the confidence meter. If the CB is correct and Egbuka does pick Ohio State, the Buckeyes will have landed the country’s No. 1 wide receiver for the second year in a row. (Julian Fleming was 2020’s top WR.)
While Kurelic has Egbuka choosing Ohio State, he also notes that it’s still not a “slam dunk.” Due to the recruiting dead period’s extension, Egbuka will “likely want to wait things out and take visits.”
JC Latham— Five-star OT, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
Latham is the country’s No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 17 overall prospect, and is No. 4 in his state. According to 247Sports, he is still considering Alabama, LSU and Ohio State, however all nine of his Crystal Ball predictions are in favor of the Buckeyes with “medium” confidence.
Similar to Egbuka, Kurelic believes Latham is “going to wait things out and make visits when things open back up.”
“It is a three and perhaps four team battle at this point. The four are Ohio State and LSU which I have as his top two, along with Alabama and Oklahoma. I have Alabama as the school to watch as far as creeping in with Ohio State and LSU. I also have Latham as picking the Buckeyes at this point. If he waits things out, one of his visits will be Ohio State and I really like the Buckeyes in that case.”
Jager Burton— Four-star OG, Frederick Douglass (Lexington, KY)
The 10 guard and No. 1 prospect in his state, Burton has narrowed his list of offers from 21 to seven. However, Kurelic believes Ohio State, Kentucky and Alabama have the best chances. The Crystal Ball also favors Ohio State (75%) over Kentucky (25%).
Burton plans to announce his decision on his birthday (Aug. 24), according to Kurelic, however it all comes down to whether or not he will get to visit Columbus before then.
“I see Burton as Ohio State, Kentucky and Alabama. I think if Burton were to pick right now it would be Kentucky. But I don’t think it is impossible for him to announce on Aug. 24 and pick the Buckeyes. For now though I have him picking Kentucky, but if he waits and visits Ohio State again, then my pick shifts to Ohio State.”
Additionally, Kurelic has reason to believe that the No. 2 guard in the country and Ohio State target, Rocco Spindler, “is planning to wait things out and take all five of his official visits.” However, the Crystal Ball has zero predictions for Ohio State, and instead has Spindler split down the middle between Michigan and Notre Dame.
Kurelic also predicts that defensive tackle Tywone Malone— the No. 4 DT in the country and No. 1 out of New Jersey— will end up at Ohio State, however he will want to take visits before he makes his decision.