Michigan offensive tackle Grant Toutant flipped his commitment from Penn State to Ohio State, and for the most part, it didn't have to do with football.
Grant Toutant committed to Penn State on Nov. 24 and remained strongly committed to the Nittany Lions throughout the remainder of his junior year, even as offers from Michigan State, Auburn and Ohio State trickled in and he participated at camps like the Under Armour All-America Camp in Cincinnati.
But a growing concern began to nag him toward the end of his school year and into the summer.
“When I initially committed, I looked into the engineering program at Penn State, and from what I had seen, it was a really good program,” Toutant told Eleven Warriors. “But as time went along and I started to ask more specific questions about the field I wanted to go in, I was finding that the specific automotive aspect was kind of missing in the undergrad program and was more available as a senior or grad student.”
Toutant comes out of Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, and he wants to enter an engineering program that offers hands-on automotive opportunities to help him eventually develop high-powered engines for sports cars and race cars.
Ohio State’s engineering program and the partnerships it has with Honda and Ford will allow Toutant to have a hands-on learning experience in the undergraduate curriculum, while he would’ve needed to join clubs or teams while at Penn State – something that is difficult for a Big Ten football player and student-athlete.
“Coach (Ryan) Day and Coach (Greg Studrawa) have always been 100 percent supportive in me pursuing the engineering program,” Toutant said. “I have never heard once from them or from the OSU engineering department that it couldn’t be done. Academics have always been stressed from day one, but not just academics in general. They have always stressed pursuing your dream and not settling because of football.”
Toutant was leaning toward a change once he realized the reality of his engineering path at Penn State, but his visit to Ohio State on June 8, the day before he flipped, really provided the tide needed for him to make a decision.
Please respect my decision, no interviews pic.twitter.com/01UKIEyrQU— Grant Toutant (@toutant_grant) June 10, 2019
Harry Miller, a 2019 offensive line signee is also entering the engineering program at Ohio State, and Toutant was able to spend a day with him to better understand what a signee can expect out of the role of an Ohio State football player. It made Toutant more comfortable with his impending decision.
But that was the last step in what was a few weeks of gradual change.
“First, I talked to my parents. Then I talked to my head coach, Mike Giannone, and my position coach, Greg James. He played college football and has been through the recruiting process, so I talked to him a lot throughout it,” Toutant said. “I had some good conversations with Coach Day and Coach Stud. They were great because they let me do things on my own time and never pushed me. I just got to a point where I knew I could make the difficult phone call I had to and was confident in my decision. I made a trip to OSU and spent time with some of the players and then sat down with Coach Day, talked about everything and then told him I decided I wanted to be at OSU.”
Toutant said he feels good about his decision now. He still has support from his family and friends in Michigan, and he is focused on winning a third consecutive state title with De La Salle next season.
He will be back at Ohio State, maybe multiple times, for games this fall and to get to know the players on the team a little better.
“I know I made the right decision and kind of feels like a weight has been lifted off of me,” Toutant said. “It was very difficult. I had a lot of great relationships with the coaching staff, but I had to look at it like an adult looks at their career and path in life. People have to make difficult decisions every day to better themselves and put them in a better position for their family.”
While the flipped commitment works out for Toutant, it was less than ideal for Penn State. Just a week before Toutant’s decision, No. 1 wideout Julian Fleming decided to commit to Ohio State instead of Penn State, and then the following Wednesday and Thursday, four-star Maryland commits Aaryn Parks and Josh Moten decommitted too.
Ohio State’s 2020 class now ranks seventh in the country, and Penn State’s has fallen to 26th.