The Hurry-Up: J.T. Tuimoloau Still Holding Off on Decision and Likely to Take Self-Guided Visits, Boom Likely Coming Soon for Ohio State's 2022 Class

By Zack Carpenter on February 25, 2021 at 6:30 pm
J.T. Tuimoloau

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Tuimoloau likely to take self-guided visits

Whenever news of five-star Eastside Catholic (Washington) defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau hits the airwaves, it's going to fill the top spot in this space.

And we were hit with some fairly big news on Thursday, as Tuimoloau's father, Ponce Faletoi, squashed the rumblings that the nation's No. 3 overall player in the 2021 class was on the verge of making a commitment this week or next week.

"As we’ve said all along, there is no decision coming until we’ve had a chance to see the schools we need to see," Faletoi told 247Sports' Brandon Huffman

"We never had any plans to commit this week or next week or the week after," Faletoi added. "We’re in this for the long haul and each school is cool with that and understands that."

Tuimoloau and his family have said all along he won't be making a decision among his final five (Ohio State, Alabama, USC, Washington, Oregon) until he can finally get out to make visits. But with the dead period extended through May 31 and a decision needed before he'll have the opportunity to make official visits, Tuimoloau could now call an audible and begin taking self-guided visits to those schools.

Tuimoloau has been to Alabama, Oregon, USC and Washington and his family has been to the three Pac-12 schools, but he’s never been to Columbus to see Ohio State.

"He really wants to see Ohio State, he really wants to see Alabama, he really wants to see USC, he really wants to see Oregon and he really wants to see Washington," said Faletoi. "And we’d like to get down with him so we can all see it together."

Huffman reports that a decision is likely not going to come until May:

"He plans to sign scholarship papers, he already made the decision not to sign his NLI," said Faletoi. "So he’s in it for the long haul and he’s prioritizing being with his teammates, playing his senior season for EC and having as much of a memorable season as he can.”

Boom coming soon

Now, the biggest news of the week for Ohio State's 2022 class is coming this weekend with the visit of four-star Arizona receiver Kyion Grayes.

Grayes – who recently made a massive jump in the rankings from No. 313 overall, No. 46 WR and No. 3 in Arizona to No. 126 overall, No. 17 WR and No. 1 in Arizona – is landing in Columbus this evening with his parents and will be headed back to Arizona on Monday. Either by then, or shortly thereafter, we believe he will be committed to Ohio State's 2022 class.

It appears a few Buckeye commits are confident of that as well. Well, they're confident that somebody is committing to the class:

Grayes already detailed to us a few days ago what his visit is going to entail, so we won't rehash it a ton here. But just as a refresher, he and his parents are coming to Columbus to make 100 percent sure that it's the right atmosphere and that they get the right vibe.

“I want them to feel as welcome as possible,” Grayes said. “I want them to feel like this is the place we should be and want it to be as friendly as possible. I just can’t wait.”

As for Grayes' on-field life, the standout receiver was a star working out of the slot at last weekend's Battle Phoenix 7-on-7 tournament, and he was one of the best offensive performers of the weekend. Don't be surprised if he eventually evolves into yet another top-100 overall prospect at the receiver spot for the Buckeyes after his massive, long-time-coming climb into top-130 range.

Johnson commitment time

Five-star Grosse Pointe South (Detroit) cornerback Will Johnson announced last week that he will be announcing his commitment on Sunday, and we now have an official time to watch for. Johnson tweeted he will be announcing his decision at 3 p.m. ET between Michigan, Ohio State and USC.

Johnson and fellow five-star cornerback Domani Jackson had each been adamant that they wanted to play at the same school in college, but as we note constantly in these situations, the package-deal rarely works out in the way that these elite talents typically plan out in the recruiting process.

“This is not gonna come down to whatever Domani does is what Will’s gonna do if that answers that question,” Will's father, Deon Johnson, told Eleven Warriors late last month. “It’s gonna come down to wherever they both feel comfortable going. It may not be the same school.”

That's likely to be the case, as Jackson is firmly committed to USC and Johnson is expected to stay home with the Wolverines. For what it's worth (and it's worth a lot), Michigan is the overwhelming Crystal Ball favorite for Johnson, and 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong upped his confidence level from 1 to 9 this week.

Pair of notable Crystal Ball predictions

Speaking of Crystal Ball predictions…

We mentioned on Wednesday that St. Louis cornerback Toriano Pride, who had long been destined to sky up the recruiting rankings from his previous perch at No. 243 overall and No. 28 at cornerback and finally did on Wednesday as he sits at No. 123 and No. 14 CB, was recently Crystal Ball’d to Clemson. 

You can add West Bloomfield (Michigan) four-star athlete Dillon Tatum to the list of Ohio State defensive back targets predicted to land elsewhere. In very unsurprising news, Tatum – the No. 264 overall player and No. 16 athlete in the 2022 class – is now being predicted to end up with his home-state Wolverines.

That would be about as shocking as Ohio State winning the Big Ten East (or the Big Ten Championship Game, I guess). Tatum’s former West Bloomfield teammate and close friend, running back Donovan Edwards, signed with the Wolverines out of the 2021 class. And, more importantly, his former West Bloomfield head coach Ron Bellamy was recently hired to Jim Harbaugh’s staff.

Once that hire was made, that basically sealed up Tatum to the Wolverines. He has been targeted as a defensive back, likely a slot cornerback, by Kerry Coombs and Co., but the Buckeyes will see him come off the board soon enough.

Bama enters Nwankpa sweepstakes

To this point, the Buckeyes’ biggest competition for one of their biggest targets in the 2022 class, Iowa safety Xavier Nwankpa, has been Clemson, Texas, Notre Dame, USC and Arizona State plus the in-state Hawkeyes.

On Thursday night, though, Alabama officially entered the Nwankpa sweepstakes, extending an offer to the four-star defensive back.

That completes a Grand Slam of sorts for Nwankpa, who has now been offered by all four programs that reached the College Football Playoff this past season.

Perhaps that makes things more intriguing for Nwankpa, and maybe he adds Alabama to his list of programs he wants to visit whenever things open back up. And perhaps the Tide finally got on board with an offer after seeing Nwankpa’s standout performance at the Battle Phoenix 7v7 tournament, an event that helped him ascend to No. 72 overall and No. 5 at safety in the 2022 cycle. (And No. 14 overall and No. 1 at safety based on 247Sports’ own metrics.)

Header photo: J.T. Tuimoloau – Brandon Huffman/247Sports

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