It was a little over one month ago that five-star defensive end JT Tuimoloau committed to Ohio State and it was a little under one month ago that he actually enrolled.
It is typical for most freshmen to arrive on campus in the summer, but it’s not typical for them to choose a school so late in the process and then show up even later.
There was expected to be a delay in Tuimoloau’s impact once practice began. After all, he was still weighing his options while his classmates were in the weight room. Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson is arguably the best in the game, but even he can only do so much given such a short amount of time. The bottom line is that there was always going to be a certain amount of catching up that needed to happen both on and off the field for Tuimoloau.
And after one week of fall camp with the Buckeyes, however, it sure sounds like the catching up has taken place for the 6-foot-5, 272-pound defensive end out of Washington.
Speaking after the Buckeyes practiced on Monday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was asked about his star freshman and his impression of how Tuimoloau has looked so far.
“So I’m not in the meetings as much with him, but the feedback I’m getting from Coach Johnson, from the other coaches in the meeting room, but then also what I see on the field, is a tremendous attention to detail,” Day said. “Very conscientious. Takes a lot of notes. Can take a meeting to the field in short order. And so because of that he’s made up a lot of ground in a very short amount of time.”
Tuimoloau’s understanding of the defense and his fastidiousness as a learner has sped up his ability to excel on the practice field. He has made plays and is getting better by the day.
“So he’s flashed, he’s learning,” Ryan Day said. “He still has moments where he’s still not sure exactly where to go or what to do. But you can see, certainly, the flashes of brilliance of a 272-pound defensive end who can run. But then when he does kind of know exactly what he’s doing, he’s made a lot of plays. And then we’re having a hard time blocking him.”
Tuimoloau will be using the rest of fall camp to continue moving up the depth chart. Day has said this week is going to be huge for a number of players, and it won’t be any different for the young defensive end. The meetings will continue and the learning will follow.
The practice field will continue to reveal everything Tuimoloau has learned.
And what exactly does he look like on the field when it’s clear he knows what he’s doing?
“When you see him move, he looks more like a 250-pound player,” Day said. “He’s 272 running at that speed, with that power, great hands, great body control. So, good start. Long way to go, but the talent is certainly there.”