Rejoice recruiting fans, we are now less than a week away from the dead period being lifted and the news cycle getting far more interesting. Prospects will be on campus, in front of coaches, and they will actually get to meet each other in person.
With that in mind, Buckeye Scoop is kicking off a three-part series to end the last full week of May detailing three prospects for the Ohio State football, basketball, and wrestling programs that OSU will want to get on campus right away. Today, we will kick it off with three key football prospects to fill Row 1, seats A, B, and C on Buckeye Scoop’s First Flight In.
J.T Tuimoloau, Eastside Catholic, Defensive Line, 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds: June 18th-21st
Okay, this may be cheating a bit since he is a 2021 prospect but it does not seem off base to say he is the biggest visitor coming through Columbus this summer. He’s the number one player in the country and someone the Buckeyes have been after for years at this point, but he has yet to visit Ohio State. Despite that closing line, many still view Ohio State as the leader in this recruitment, which makes the official visit here an even bigger deal. The Buckeyes, Ryan Day, Larry Johnson, and essentially everyone in the WHAC will need to get the deal done here. Especially when you consider a visit to Tuscaloosa could be on deck. As a result, it also does not seem like a coincidence that he’ll be the only defensive lineman on campus his weekend in June. Red carpet treatment and one-on-one time with Larry Johnson screams first-flight-in treatment despite coming the third week of June. Tuimoloau easily has the longest flight of the group so he lands the window seat so he can watch the scenery during his cross-country flight.
Zach Rice, Liberty Christian Academy (VA.), Offensive Tackle, 6-foot-6, and 285 pounds: June 4th-6th
This is where things get interesting, Tuimoloau was the obvious choice for the window seat of our first flight in the group. After him, though, it does require some thought for who should claim the aisle seat of the first flight in the group. There are a few variables to consider, such as whether the positional need is more important than closing on a recruit they already lead with. Ultimately, however, we went with positional need despite it being a recruit they aren’t tied to much, so enter five-star offensive tackle Zach Rice.
From the 30,000 foot view, Rice has handled his recruitment extremely well during the ongoing dead period. He has not rushed into a commitment or dramatically cut his list to scraps. Instead he has his list down to just the five schools he wants to officially visit. Those five would be Virginia — where his grandfather played, North Carolina — where he has family-like ties, Notre Dame– who has produced offensive linemen, and the perennial powers of Ohio State and Alabama. And even though he is down to five schools, none of those five seem to have a clear-cut lead. He truly is open to any of those five, which is good for the Buckeyes when it comes to what an official visit could do here. Out of those five, it seems like there are two schools of thought. One is staying closer to home (Virginia, North Carolina), and the other is leaving his region to join a national power (Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame). He truly could go either way right now and that is why he joins our first flight in group because getting him on campus could turn the tide. He is a big dude, so let’s give him the aisle.
Omari Abor, Duncanville (TX.), Defensive End, 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds: June 4th-6th
We thought the second spot was hard to pick but this third one took it to a whole new level of interesting. Tuimoloau was easy for number one because of his rank and fit in the 2021 class. Rice was rather easy as well when you look at how badly Ohio State needs offensive tackles and how open his recruitment is. After that, where do we go? Quarterback? The Buckeyes have a five-star and the country’s top recruit in Quinn Ewers. How about cornerback? Jaheim Singletary, Jyaire Brown, and Ryan Turner may just be the best three-man group in the country. They have dynamic wide receivers, versatile linebackers, and heck they even have two tight ends. So where to? We went defensive lineman again because after a game-changing quarterback and lock-down cornerbacks, the pass rush is the next most important thing on the field.
With that in mind, how could we not pick five-star defensive end Omari Abor who is built nearly exactly like what Larry Johnson would describe as his perfect defensive end. Clearly after landing Jack Sawyer and possibly J.T. Tuimoloau in 2021, defensive end isn’t the biggest need for Ohio State in 2022 but you don’t pass up the chance to get Abor. Additionally, both Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith will likely be gone by the time Abor makes it to Columbus so players will be needed there sooner rather than later. With all that in mind, Abor gets the less than desirable middle seat. But on the plus side he does snag the last seat of the football group.
Buckeye Scoop’s First Flight In series continues full steam ahead tomorrow as we will fill the second row of seating with three Ohio State basketball targets that Chris Holtmann and Co. will want on campus as soon as the dead period ends.