The Five Remaining Storylines That Will Determine Who Comes out on Top for the 2021 Recruiting Crown

By Andrew Ellis on August 11, 2020 at 8:35 am
Ryan Day and Nick Saban are in a battle for the top spot in the 2021 recruiting rankings.
Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Advertiser via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Will there be a new king come February?

We're all waiting to find out exactly what's going to happen with the 2020 football season. Regardless of what the ultimate decision may be, Ohio State and the rest of the country will continue to build on their 2021 recruiting classes. Right now, it's looking like the majority of those efforts will be done virtually as the dead period is showing no signs of ending. 

Ryan Day's top-ranked recruiting class holds about a 25-point lead over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. The Buckeyes have 19 commitments and are looking to end with a 25-man class. Alabama is sitting at 16 pledges with plenty of room to add even more firepower. Ohio State holds a slight lead in the average rating per commitment with 94.94 to the Tide's 94.48.

Needless to say, both powerhouse programs are unsurprisingly assembling two elite recruiting classes. The Buckeyes have been out in front for some time now thanks to the work that's been put in over the spring and summer. But Saban had a red-hot month of July to help close the gap. Today, we're looking at the prospects who will likely determine who takes home the 2021 recruiting crown. 

J.T. Tuimoloau • Defensive Line • ★★★★★ • Sammamish, Washington

The No. 1 prospect on our latest recruiting board and the second-ranked player in America, J.T. Tuimoloau is a name we've been talking about for well over a year now. The five-star can play anywhere on the defensive line and has the athleticism to be a star at tight end if that were to be his choice in college. He's in no hurry to make a decision and plans on taking his visits if he's allowed to do so before signing day.

As for the race for the recruiting crown, Tuimoloau is one to watch closely since Ohio State and Alabama are both firmly in the mix. Most believe the Buckeyes are battling it out with Oregon, Washington, and USC, but the Crimson Tide are in the picture as well and there's a long way to go in this recruitment. The 6-foot-5, 277-pounder has long been one of Larry Johnson's top priorities, but the current pandemic has prevented him from ever stepping foot on campus. 

Emeka Egbuka • Wide Receiver • ★★★★★ • Steilacoom, Washington 

The recruitment of the nation's top wideout doesn't involve the Crimson Tide, but Emeka Egbuka's decision will factor heavily into Ohio State's 2021 class. The Buckeyes, Sooners, and Huskies are the primary contenders with most folks believing it's going to end up as a Ryan Day vs. Lincoln Riley battle. 

There are plenty of questions remaining with this one, and the first should be answered here in a few weeks when Egbuka is expected to make a trip to Norman. If it takes place, the Sooners' staff won't be allowed to be involved at all, but plenty of Riley's 2021 commitments are expected to be in town. Egbuka has been to Columbus multiple times and is extremely close with Brian Hartline, but the ongoing shutdown has complicated things a bit. 

Tunmise Adeleye • Defensive End • ★★★★ • Katy, Texas

Four-star Texas defender Tunmise Adeleye has been committed to Ohio State since April, but several other programs are looking to flip the prized pass-rusher. Rated as the country's No. 30 overall prospect, Adeleye has returned to Texas after transferring to IMG Academy earlier this year, and he won't be playing football anywhere this fall. He's on track to finish up his classes online before enrolling at his program of choice in January. 

Alabama, Texas A&M, and Florida are still in hot pursuit of the Texan who's particularly fond of Larry Johnson. A flip to the Crimson Tide would be especially troubling for Ohio State's chase for the top spot. This is one situation where the pandemic may actually help the Buckeyes since it's not looking like he'll be able to visit elsewhere. Either way, there's not a ton of reason for concern at this point though Adeleye is keeping the communication open with other schools.

Amarius Mims • Offensive Tackle • ★★★★★ • Cochran, Georgia

Ohio State isn't involved in the chase for the country's No. 2 tackle, but the Crimson Tide are in a battle with Georgia for five-star Amarius Mims. Honestly, it's pretty crazy that Alabama is such a serious contender considering Nick Saban already has a pair of five-star tackles committed in JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer

Mims is set to announce on Oct. 14 and has narrowed things down to Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida State. The Bulldogs are the favorite for the state's top-rated prospect, but Alabama's offensive line development is impossible to ignore. We'll see if Kirby Smart can assist in Ohio State's pursuit of the top spot. 

Ga'Quincy McKinstry • Cornerback • ★★★★★ • Pinson, Alabama 

Ohio State and Alabama have had a bit of a back-and-forth this cycle when it comes to cornerback recruiting. Jordan Hancock had been a top target of both programs before Kerry Coombs and the Buckeyes ultimately flipped the Georgia star from Clemson. Cincinnati's Devonta Smith was an Ohio State pledge for about three months before he opened things up and committed to the Tide. 

The Buckeyes appear to be done at the position, but Nick Saban is locked in a battle with Auburn for his top target at the position. Pinson, Alabama's Ga'Quincy McKinstry goes by "Kool-Aid" and is rated as the nation's No. 1 cornerback. He doesn't seem to be all that close to a decision and LSU remains in the mix as well. Adding yet another five-star would obviously help the Tide as they look to take over at the top of the 2021 rankings.

Ohio State and Alabama both have four five-star commitments thus far. The Buckeyes did have what looked like an insurmountable lead atop the recruiting rankings, but the summer months have seen a commitment barrage for Saban and the Tide. We should soon know the fate of the upcoming season, but the chase for the recruiting crown will give us something else to look forward to as the early signing period and national signing day approach.

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