Top Landing Spots for J.T. Tuimoloau, CFB's No. 1 Defensive Tackle for 2021
Being one of the top high school football recruits in the country comes with attention, and J.T. Tuimoloau will have a lot eyes on him over the next year as he contemplates where he wants to play at the next level.
Tuimoloau is nearly 6'5" and comes in at 277 pounds as the top defensive tackle recruit in the class of 2021. The 5-star player is No. 4 overall in 247Sports' composite rankings and No. 1 in the state of Washington.
Over the past two seasons, Tuimoloau has logged 134 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. That's tremendous production for a high schooler, and he'll be looking to add to those numbers as a senior in 2020.
With 23 FBS offers already, Tuimoloau will have his choice of which school he wants to play for, but there are a handful of elite programs that would be perfect fits.
It's a new era in Washington Huskies football. Head coach Chris Petersen stepped down following his team's bowl game and was replaced by Jimmy Lake. Landing the top player in his own state would be a great way for Lake to put his stamp on his first full year of recruiting.
Not surprisingly, Tuimoloau has already made a couple of trips to the Seattle campus, including for Junior Day at the end of last month after an unofficial visit in September. That latest trip is significant considering Lake took over in December.
It also helps Washington's case that some strong defensive tackles have played for the Huskies in the past, most notably Vita Vea. While Vea wasn't a top-tier recruit coming into college, he developed his game with the program and became a top-15 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
A brand-new coach could make Tuimoloau a bit more anxious about committing to the Huskies, even if defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski is still running the defense. Regardless, if Lake is able to help Washington to compete in a strong Pac-12 conference in 2020, it could be enough to secure the young defensive lineman's commitment by the 2021 national signing day.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Could the Ohio State Buckeyes convince Tuimoloau to leave the West Coast for the Midwest? Head coach Ryan Day and the rest of his staff certainly hope so.
Although 247Sports lists Tuimoloau as a defensive tackle, the 5-star recruit has spent the majority of his time in high school on the edge. His frame suggests that he could move around the defensive line, and he could join a long line of successful Ohio State pass-rushers that most recently includes the likes of Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young.
Tuimoloau is being recruited by Larry Johnson, the assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the Buckeyes. Johnson previously recruited both Young and the younger Bosa brother. Adding Tuimoloau to that list would be another huge win.
Convincing him to leave the West Coast will be tough enough, but it will be an even harder sell considering how loaded the Buckeyes are on the defensive line. They have 10 defensive tackles already on the roster and one more committed to play in the near future.
Still, it could be difficult to pass up a program that consistently wins Big Ten titles and takes trips to the College Football Playoff.
The USC Trojans are on the verge of a make-or-break season for head coach Clay Helton. Landing an elite recruit like Tuimoloau could do a lot for Helton's job security and, more importantly for USC fans, the team's long-term success.
With the uncertainty surrounding their head coach's future, recruiting hasn't gone great for the Trojans lately. Their 2020 recruiting class ranks just 55th nationally and 10th in the Pac-12.
Things are looking up for the 2021 class, however. The Trojans have secured a commitment from 5-star pro-style quarterback Jake Garcia and have two 4-star commits, outside linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote and defensive tackle Jay Toia.
Adding Tuimoloau to an already strong class could flip the narrative, but USC will likely need to have a strong season before the 5-star recruit makes a decision. If Helton's team can win some high-profile games and compete for a chance at a conference championship, it might be enough to sway the top player on the Trojans' recruiting wish list.
The Stanford Cardinal have a lot of questions to answer in the 2020 season, but head coach David Shaw is hoping that a commitment from a player like Tuimoloau could be a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
Transfers have been a big issue. The Cardinals lost starting quarterback K.J. Costello, who went to Mississippi State for his final year of eligibility. Shaw acknowledged that he understands why some of his players have to transfer, noting it can be difficult to get into Stanford's prestigious graduate programs.
That adds even more pressure on Shaw and his staff to keep producing top-tier recruiting classes. The Cardinal had a solid 2020 group that finished 21st nationally and third in the Pac-12.
Defensive line help will be a huge need in the 2021 class, which makes Tuimoloau an even bigger target for the Cardinal. Stanford has just two defensive tackles on its roster, and one is soon-to-be senior Thomas Schaffer.
If Tuimoloau is thinking about an education along with a football career, Stanford would be a perfect landing spot.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Playing for the biggest powerhouse in college football is appealing for any top-tier recruit. The opportunity to develop under Alabama head coach Nick Saban—along with his elite coaching staff, facilities and resources—makes it a dream school for many.
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Golding are already heavily involved in recruiting Tuimoloau to Tuscaloosa. Alabama was one of the earliest FBS schools to offer him a scholarship, and the Crimson Tide even invited him to school camp in June 2018.
Alabama has produced a ton of NFL players on the defensive line, including the likes of Jonathan Allen, Marcell Dareus, Da'Shawn Hand, Daron Payne and Quinnen Williams. Raekwon Davis will be the next NFL playmaker after a dominant final season with Alabama in 2019.
Tuimoloau could immediately get playing time given the lack of senior and juniors on the Tide's roster. The chance to play early and compete for a national championship for at least three seasons could be too good to pass up.