Ohio State fans were spoiled earlier this year when it seemed like each new day brought with it another highly-regarded commitment. For a while, it looked as though Ryan Day and his staff were putting together a class so incredible that there was no chance they would be caught in the recruiting rankings.
Unfortunately, that would not be the case, and as things currently stand the Buckeyes hold the No. 2 class in 2021 behind Alabama. However, looks can be deceiving, and Ohio State is still very much in the drivers seat to close out this cycle with the top group in the nation.
Ohio State trails Alabama by only two points in the 247Sports Team Rankings, despite the Crimson Tide holding two more commits than the Buckeyes. In fact, the Tide are leading purely because they have an extra pair of three-star recruits, as both programs hold commitments from four five-star prospects and 12 four-stars apiece. As a result, OSU is still tops in the country with a 94.61 average player rating (compared to Alabama’s 93.99).
While the eight total five-star recruits committed to the two programs are as many as the rest of the top 12 teams in the rankings combined, Ohio State is not nearly finished adding some of the nation’s most elite prospects to its class. There is a very legitimate chance Day adds at least two more five-stars to the mix before things are said and done, with the most likely candidates both residing on the west coast.
Wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, one of the highest-rated remaining uncommitted players in the country, is at the very top of Ohio State’s recruiting board, and there seems to still be a very significant amount of mutual interest. A native of Washington, the No. 1 WR and the No. 8 player overall in 2021 has had his options narrowed down to four schools for quite some time, and the Buckeyes have long been thought to be the frontrunner (the others being Clemson, Oklahoma and Washington).
As Birm of Lettermen Row discussed on Tuesday, Oklahoma made a big push for Egbuka last month, but the star wideout chose not to travel to Norman for the Sooner Summit. By contrast, Egbuka has visited Ohio State’s campus twice, and with the recruiting dead period extended through January, there is a chance he will not get to make any official visits. Brian Hartline and the rest of the OSU staff has been building a relationship with Egbuka for almost two years, and it is a big reason why they continue to maintain their edge.
The experts seem to agree, as eight of the 10 Crystal Ball predictions for Egbuka are currently in favor of Ohio State with a confidence of seven. He also has one for Oklahoma and one undecided. It is worth noting, however, that all of the picks in favor of the Buckeyes came at the end of April, and obviously a lot could have changed since then. Still, there have been no indications to the contrary that OSU is in good standing in this recruitment.
His fellow Washington-ite, five-star SDE J.T. Tuimoloau, is a bit more tricky. Playing his high school ball at Eastside Catholic, the same program that produced current Ohio State wide receiver Gee Scott Jr., Tuimoloau ranks as the No. 2 player in the 2021 class, as well as the No. 2 strong-side defensive end.
Unlike Egbuka, Tuimoloau has never visited Ohio State’s campus. Planning on waiting until February to make his decision anyway, that trip will have to wait until January at the earliest if it is going to happen at all. Larry Johnson’s ability to develop guys for the NFL is certainly a tantalizing draw in favor of the Buckeyes, but the staff will hope to be able to get him on campus to really seal the deal as he continues to get pressure from programs like Alabama, Oregon, USC and Washington.
Tuimoloau has been playing his recruiting process incredibly close to the vest, but Ohio State is still the favorite on the 247Sports Crystal Balls. OSU holds four of the five predictions to land the talented defensive lineman, but with a confidence level of only four. The lone prediction in favor of Washington came all the way back in April of 2019.
- Three-star offensive tackle Zen Michalski, the No. 18 OT in the 2021 class and a current Louisville commit, told Cleveland.com that his recent offer from Ohio State “felt unreal.” Despite his pledge to the Cardinals, Michalski’s recruitment is far from over. The Indiana native has not been able to visit any college campuses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is impressed with the amount of attention he has received from the Buckeyes. While he seems happy with his current commitment, it’s worth keeping an eye on Michalski as a potential flip candidate towards the end of this cycle.
- According to Eleven Warriors, four-star 2022 tight end Benji Gosnell plans to take the Bennett Christian route and visit Ohio State’s campus on his own as the recruiting dead period continues with no end in sight. Gosnell, the No. 11 TE in the class, hopes to make the trip sometime in October or November. He has already narrowed down his list to just three schools, with Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina his remaining options.