Ohio State has never signed a scholarship player from Hawaii, but took a significant step toward ending that drought on Monday evening when Honolulu St. Louis five-star defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele included the Buckeyes in his Top 5 alongside Alabama, Clemson, Texas and Washington.
TOP 5 IS HERE.. Please respect my decision. No interviews at this time. To God Be the Glory. pic.twitter.com/ZptMOwnAvH
— FAATUI TUITELE (@tuitele87) May 21, 2018
The 6-foot-4, 299-pound Tuitele is considered the second-best defensive tackle and No. 24 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 22 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and seven sacks to help the Crusaders to their second-straight state championship last fall.
Tuitele — who is named after the chief of the western region of America Samoa — made his first and only trip to Columbus in early April. It was clear at that time his interest in the program was sincere, given it was an unofficial visit and he paid his own way to campus.
USC is a surprising omission from the list, since the Trojans were considered the overwhelming favorite in Tuitele's recruitment thanks to proximity and the program’s pull with Polynesian prospects. He's the cousin and former teammate of Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so one would have to imagine they'll be the favorite moving forward.
Defensive tackle isn’t a glaring need this cycle, as the Buckeyes signed five-star Taron Vincent, four-star Tommy Togiai and junior college transfer Antwuan Jackson Jr. in the last class. But if the staff ultimately looks to add one, Tuitele and Florida four-star Tyler Davis are among their top priorities.
Former Ohio State punter Scott Terna was from Punahou, but he walked on to the program in 1991.