For the last 15+ months, coaching staffs have been unable to host prospects for the ever-important official visits. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a seemingly never-ending dead period that prevented Ohio State and other programs from developing and cultivating the relationships that are paramount in the recruiting process. Instead, Zoom meetings have replaced the face-to-face time that's typically done in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Rejoice. The dead period is finally ending.
June 1 marks the beginning of a quiet period that will allow official visits and in-person meetings to take place at colleges across the country. To call it a chaotic month would be a vast understatement as Ohio State is expecting at least 51 official visitors to make their way to Columbus. Listing out all of the names right here would be a bit of an eyesore. Fortunately, we've got an ongoing list on our recruiting board that can be found right HERE.
For now, we're looking at a handful of the biggest names to know and why finally getting them on campus is of the utmost importance.
Aamil Wagner • Offensive Tackle • Huber Heights • ★★★★
After failing to reel in several top 2021 targets, signing at least a pair of offensive tackles is critical for Greg Studrawa and Co. Ohio State's offensive line play has been superb, but missing out on J.C. Latham (Bama) last cycle and top target Kiyaunta Goodwin (Kentucky) this time around is far from ideal. Now, the Buckeyes are looking at the Dayton area as the state's top player at the position has become a must-get.
Wayne High School's Aamil Wagner is scheduled to make his official visit on the weekend of June 4. That means Ohio State is getting the first shot before the 6-foot-6, 260-pounder makes his way to Kentucky, Penn State, and Notre Dame. The Irish are a real threat in this recruitment, so it would be fantastic news if the Buckeyes can wrap things up before those other visits take place.
- The Major Players: Ohio State, Notre Dame
Xavier Nwankpa • Safety • Altoona, Iowa • ★★★★
Kerry Coombs' top safety target will also be on campus on June 4. Iowa's Xavier Nwankpa is considering offers from the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M with each program being a serious contender for his services. Listed as the nation's No. 1 safety according to 247Sports, the Aggies and Irish are expected to host the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder following the trip to Columbus.
Nwankpa made an unofficial visit to College Station back in March, and I'm of the belief that TAMU is the top competition at the moment. The Buckeyes are the crystal ball favorites here, and it's worth noting that Nwankpa has a solid relationship with four-star Ohio State wide receiver commit Kyion Grayes.
- The Major Players: Ohio State, Texas A&M, Notre Dame
Zion Branch • Safety • Las Vegas • ★★★★
If Nwankpa is 1A on the team's board at safety, then Bishop Gorman's Zion Branch is 1B. Listed as the country's No. 4 safety and No. 49 overall prospect, Branch is spreading out his visits in both June and then again in November. Ohio State will play host on June 4 with USC and Oklahoma doing the same later on in the month. He's then expected to check out a pair of heavy hitters with trips to Tuscaloosa and Clemson in November. Coombs would love to get both Branch and Nwankpa, but I tend to believe that one eventually ends up signing elsewhere.
Grabbing Branch could eventually lead to a nice little bonus for one program. His brother Zachariah is one of the country's top wideouts in the 2023 class. The Trojans have been viewed as the favorites, but the Branch brothers are far from being SoCal locks.
- The Major Players: Ohio State, USC
Omari Abor • Defensive End • Duncanville, Texas • ★★★★★
Larry Johnson is trying to work his magic once again as Ohio State is targeting yet another five-star edge rusher. The state of Texas has been good to the Buckeyes with the likes of Jeff Okudah, J.K. Dobbins, Garrett Wilson, and Baron Browning. But the Lone Star State is one area where Johnson really hasn't had to do a whole lot of work. That's no longer the case for the 2022 class.
Duncanville's Omari Abor seems to be particularly high on Oklahoma and Ohio State at the moment, and both programs will host the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder in June. The Buckeyes get the first shot as Abor will be in town on the star-studded June 4 weekend before heading to Baton Rouge, Norman, and Tuscaloosa. You can never count out the Tide, but this is shaping up to be a Buckeyes vs. Sooners battle. It's hard not to feel a little bit of confidence here when you look at recent defensive line production and how it's translated to the NFL. There are some family ties that favor Lincoln Riley and Co., however.
- The Major Players: Ohio State, Oklahoma
Jaheim Singletary • Cornerback • Jacksonville • ★★★★★
Getting a kid on campus is never a bad thing. That also goes for five-star commitments from the state of Florida. There's no reason to doubt Jaheim Singletary's status as a Buckeye commit, but that hasn't stopped programs like Florida and Georgia from pushing for a flip. The Gators were viewed as the favorites for a long while before Singletary committed to Ohio State back in January.
Rated as the country's No. 5 corner and No. 13 overall prospect, he's kept a pretty low profile since pledging to the Buckeyes. He's made an unofficial trip to Columbus, but getting the five-star on campus the weekend of June 25 – when he can finally meet in-person with Coombs and the staff – certainly shouldn't be overlooked.
In case anyone is wondering about the skill level here, Singletary's 247Sports player comparison is listed as Jalen Ramsey.
Quinn Ewers • Quarterback • Southlake, Texas • ★★★★★
The importance of getting Quinn Ewers on campus is really two-fold. Listed as the nation's top overall prospect in the 2022 class, the one-time Longhorn commit is scheduled to make two separate trips to Columbus next month. Even with a different quarterback now committed, there's no doubt that Steve Sarkisian and the Texas staff will continue to recruit the Southlake star. There isn't any concern surrounding his commitment, and the upcoming trips should help to solidify things for Ryan Day and Corey Dennis.
Perhaps even more importantly? The quarterback is always seen as a leader of a class, so getting Ewers on campus with a number of other commitments and targets is a pretty big deal. The spring and summer visits are much different from those that take place in the fall. With no games being played, things aren't quite as hectic and the visitors should have plenty of time to strengthen their relationships with one another while the current commits put on their recruiting hats as well. Ewers will be accompanied by teammate and top pass-catching target Landon Samson. We'll see if Brian Hartline throws an offer his way.
J.T. Tuimoloau • Defensive End • Sammamish, Wash. • ★★★★★
This list of key June visitors isn't necessarily in order. But make no mistake about it, the last remaining big fish in the Class of 2021 will be the most important visitor Ohio State hosts this summer. The long-awaited trips for Washington's J.T. Tuimoloau are finally set. The country's No. 1 player (per 247) will visit Washinton, USC, Ohio State, Oregon, and Alabama in June. He spent plenty of time at the top of our 2021 recruiting board before the focus moved on to the 2022 class.
Tuimoloau has handled the process just as he said he would all along. No decision was going to be made before the edge rusher got to make his official visits. He's camped in Tuscaloosa and made multiple trips to Oregon and Washington. This will be his first time heading to Columbus, which he had planned on doing last spring/summer before things got shut down. His basketball schedule and the state of Washington's delayed spring football season have put the recruiting process on hold. Until now.
The good news? Tuimoloau is big on defensive end development, he's raved about Larry Johnson, and the Buckeyes' defensive line coach will finally get to be up close and personal with the prized pass rusher on the weekend of June 18. He's also close with a pair of current Buckeyes that are from his home state—Emeka Egbuka and Gee Scott Jr. The latter is a former teammate at Eastside Catholic High.
The bad news? Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide get the final crack at the 6-foot-5, 277-pounder before he announces a decision in late June or early July. Does the timing of these visits really matter? Sometimes yes, but usually not so much. The problem is that Alabama tends to land most of the targets that it really wants, and somehow Saban always finds a way to sign upwards of 27+ players while adding another few via the portal.
Maybe we're underestimating the West Coast programs a tad bit here, but it's long seemed like this one will come down to the two national powers. After all this time, June is finally going to tell the tale in the J.T. Tuimoloau sweepstakes. He'll enroll at his school of choice sometime this summer and will undoubtedly make an instant impact wherever he ends up.
- The Major Players: Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon