5-Star DL J.T. Tuimoloau Commits to Ohio State over USC, Oregon, Washington

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 4, 2021

Brandon Huffman, 247Sports

Defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau, who is ranked first in 247Sports' national class of 2021 rankings, has chosen to attend Ohio State.

Tuimoloau made the announcement on CBS Sports HQ on Sunday. He had four finalists: Ohio State, Oregon, USC and Washington.

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Congrats Buckeyes Fans! The No. 1 player in the 2021 class, 5⭐️ DL @JT_tuimoloau, is headed to Columbus. @OhioStateFB | #GoBuckeyes https://t.co/BPJDyaKGqC

The 6'4½", 277-pound Tuimoloau, who plays for Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Washington, is part of a stacked defensive lineman class where four of the top five prospects play that position.

He's a two-time Washington 3A state champion who had 64 tackles (15 for a loss) and 11 sacks during his junior year, which saw the Crusaders finish 12-2 overall and avenge a regular-season loss to O'Dea in the state title game. 

Eastside Catholic's 2020 season was moved to the winter and spring of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team went 4-2 over a truncated schedule.

Tuimoloau has garnered much interest from around the country, receiving 24 offers. 

OSU was expected to be the pick, though, as six 247Sports analysts unanimously pegged Tuimoloau going to the Buckeyes.

In the end, that's the school Tuimoloau chose, as Ohio State picks up yet another stud defensive player.

The Buckeyes have been producing elite talent on the defensive side of the ball for years, with examples including two of the top three picks in the 2020 NFL draft in defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah. San Francisco 49ers edge-rusher Nick Bosa, who was the NFL's 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, helped his team reach Super Bowl LIV.

Tuimoloau has a chance to follow the footsteps of past defensive greats and become a top draft pick someday.

Brandon Huffman of 247Sports offered a scouting report and provided grades of nine points on a 10-point scale for versatility, motor, athleticism, explosiveness, strength and size.

He got eights for hand quickness and point of attack, and Huffman compared him to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward:

"Powerful, athletic and nimble, with room to still add significant weight at the next level. Has lined up on the edge, mixing with hand down while also standing up. Elite pass rusher, who can mix a variety of moves with pure strength to shed his blockers.

"Can drop into coverage against running backs, receivers and tight ends and has the athleticism and ball skills to be a force in coverage. Has even played safety. Could be a top tight end prospect if he focused on offense, with natural pass-catching skills, ability to track the ball and high point it and run after the catch.

"Also a high-major basketball player, averaging nearly a double-double in prep career. As he continues to add weight and strength, figures to be among the elite pass-rushers at the next level. Projects as an instant impact Power Five starter and a top-10 overall draft pick."

Heyward, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, has largely excelled with the Steelers during his 10-year career, which saw him amass 29.0 sacks from 2017 to 2019.

As for Tuimoloau, the two-sport athlete (football and basketball) now heads to Columbus, Ohio, to carve his own path.