One of the most talked about recruitments of the 2021 cycle has been for five-star wide receiver target Emeka Egbuka. The best receiver in the country and the seventh-ranked player in the class according to the 247Sports Composite has long been linked to Ohio State — mainly because of his strong relationship with position coach Brian Hartline. With Egbuka, Hartline is trying to land the top receiver in the country in back-to-back years, which of course would bring in even more elite depth in an already loaded position group for Ohio State.
With everything that has gone on in the world, Egbuka’s recruitment, like many others, has been negatively affected. Not being able to visit the schools of his choice and have an interaction with the coaching staff has made it virtually impossible for Egbuka to weigh everything included in making a decision of this magnitude. It’s not a guarantee, but one would have to believe that with the NCAA consistently extending the recruiting dead period each chance they get, it’s hard to see any official visits taking place this year whether football is played on the field or not, leaving prospects like Egbuka in tough situations as they navigate this process.
Though Egbuka trimmed his list to four schools — which included Clemson, Washington, Ohio State, and Oklahoma — it’s pretty clear that the two programs with the best shot to land the five-star are the Buckeyes and the Sooners. Oklahoma has really become a player in this recruitment as of late. With the Sooners five-star QB pledge Caleb Williams actively leading vocally and using social media as a tool to make Egbuka a priority, Lincoln Riley and his staff have done a solid job at gaining ground. Fortunately for Ohio State, the longest lasting relationship in this recruitment overall has been with the Buckeyes and Brian Hartline, as previously stated.
When it comes to Oklahoma, the aforementioned Caleb Williams and many other Sooners commits and top targets will be in Norman this weekend for what they are calling the “Sooner Summit”. While these prospects cannot be with the staff due to the NCAA dead period, it’s still a recruiting tool the current commits are using, which has to make Oklahoma’s staff excited.
In regards to Egbuka, this was a weekend that provided a possible chance for him to get down to the campus and be with the other commits in the class. While he wouldn’t be able to see the football program itself, it is still an opportunity that could give Oklahoma a nice advantage moving forward. The good news for Ohio State, however, is that Egbuka will not be making the trip, and once again leaves him wondering when he will actually be able to see Oklahoma and get a feel for the campus.
It’s a tough spot to be in for Egbuka, but the Buckeyes of course want to continue leading the charge as the likely destination when all is said and done. The Ohio State staff is not usually one to prevent players from wanting to visit other programs either, but not having Egbuka on site for this Sooner Summit likely bodes well for the Buckeyes. Not that it would be the ultimate tipping point, but events like that of course provide some momentum.
Ohio State still has work to do, but they’ve had him on campus twice already, and if they are ever allowed to get Egbuka back again, look for the coaching staff to use their strong relationship to help close the deal when he is ready to make the call. The timeline is up in the air with Egbuka choosing to play his senior high school season (which begins in March), so his original plans for a decision coming during the early signing period in December could still happen. Either way, it still could be a while until this is all sorted out.
- Muck like Emeka Egbuka, the Buckeyes are still vying for the commitment of J.T. Tuimoloau, another five-star product out of Washington state. Per Brandon Huffman of 247Sports, the Buckeyes still have the “buzz” in this recruitment. Tuimoloau doesn’t plan on making a decision any time soon, and while Ohio State sits well right now, Alabama of course is looking to make some progress with the nation’s second-ranked prospect.
- 2022 four-star linebacker Anthony Johnson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/Neumann Goretti) announced a top five list of schools yesterday via his Twitter. Making the cut included Alabama, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Penn State, and Ohio State. Johnson is currently ranked as the ninth-best inside linebacker in the country and the sixth-best player in his home state.