By The Numbers: Why Ohio State’s 2021 Recruiting Class Got That Much Better After J.T. Tuimoloau’s Decision

By Colin Hass-Hill on July 5, 2021 at 8:35 am
J.T. Tuimoloau and Ryan Day

Ryan Day did it. Larry Johnson did it. Ohio State did it.

The Buckeyes ran the ultra marathon version of a recruitment with J.T. Tuimoloau, and on Sunday they won. In one of the most anticipated decisions by a prospect in program history, Tuimoloau chose to play college football in Columbus.

Mark Pantoni dusted off the boom GIFs, Gee Scott Jr. celebrated getting his buddy to join him across the country and and the rest of the Big Ten shuddered as Johnson added another five-star defensive end..

It was a good day for football in Columbus. That’s clear. To help contextualize it, though, we went to the trusty recruiting rankings to try to better understand the absurdity that is this 2021 class of Buckeyes.

Here are 10 numbers that speak to the greatness that could lie ahead for this bunch.


The meaning: This, the average 247Sports composite rating of the players in Ohio State’s 2021 class, is the highest in program history.

The context: The Buckeyes have had some whoppers of recruiting classes over the years. Their 2017 group, featuring Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Wyatt Davis, J.K. Dobbins and others, is downright legendary. It was the highest-rated – up until now. The 2021 class, in totality, has a higher average player rating than the signees four years prior. Put in non-numeric terms, Ohio State’s bringing in a group heavy on top-end talent and depth. 


The meaning: This is the first time that 247Sports has had five of the top-10 prospects in its own rankings choose the same school.

The context: Here’s where the top-10 recruits in the 2021 cycle, as rated by 247Sports, are going… Ohio State, USC, Miami, Alabama, Ohio State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama, Ohio State. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Donovan Jackson, Emeka Egbuka and TreVeyon Henderson were all top-10 recruits in the 247Sports database, and they're all coming to Columbus.


The meaning: Ohio State’s two top defensive players ever signed are Tuimoloau and Sawyer, and they’re both in the same class.

The context: Previously, Noah Spence and Nick Bosa held the title as Ohio State's two top-rated defensive signees. That's no longer the case. Both Tuimoloau and Sawyer have ascended to the throne. As the No. 3 and No. 4 prospects, respectively, this is the second time ever (following Florida 11 years ago) that two top-four defensive linemen sign with the same school in the same cycle.


The meaning: The 2021 Ohio State class has the second-best average player rating of any class ever, behind only the 2021 Alabama class.

The context: You remember the average player ranking being the best ever for Ohio State in 2021? Well, it would also be the best of all-time for any school. But...Nick Saban exists. Alabama’s 2021 average player rating (95.00) edges out Ohio State’s average rating (94.76). So, based on ratings, when you consider both the five-stars and the depth, this is one of the greatest classes ever assembled.

Jack Sawyer


The meaning: Ryan Day has landed four recruits ranked higher than the best prospect Urban Meyer ever signed at Ohio State.

The context: Meyer arrived in Columbus and recruiting went nuts. When he left, reasonable people asked whether Day would be able to maintain seemingly unrealistic expectations on the trail. Alas… Day hasn’t just matched Meyer’s recruiting success; he’s improved upon it. The younger Bosa was the highest-rated prospect he ever inked. Day has now landed four guys higher-ranked than him: Tuimoloau, Sawyer, Julian Fleming and Quinn Ewers. You can add Justin Fields if you’d like, and that would increase it to five.


The meaning: Ohio State inked six five-stars in its 2021 class. The rest of the Big Ten combined has secured at least six five-stars in a single year once in the past two decades.

The context: The idea of bringing in six five-star recruits in a single cycle is laughable at most Big Ten schools. More than half of them haven’t signed six five-stars in the entire modern recruiting era. Only once – in 2005 – has the rest of the conference’s schools piled together at least six five-star signees. Since 2008, they haven’t had more than four in a given cycle.


The meaning: Ohio State will have 14 five-stars on its roster this season.

The context: It’ll be a long, long time until the Buckeyes no longer have double-digit five-stars on their roster. This fall, they’re set to have 14: Tuimoloau, Sawyer, Egbuka, Jackson, Henderson, Fleming, Kyle McCord, Paris Johnson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zach Harrison, Harry Miller, Garrett Wilson, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Taron Vincent. Six are locked in as starters and others could earn jobs as the year goes on.


The meaning: Ohio State has signed more five-stars than the rest of the Big Ten combined in the past decade.

The context: The Buckeyes’ dominance of the Big Ten is no secret. But the gap in talent between them and the rest of the conference has only grown in recent years. Between the 2012 and 2021 classes – a decade-long span of time encapsulating both the Meyer and Day tenures – Ohio State has signed 27 five-star recruits and the other 13 Big Ten teams have signed 24 five-stars. The on-field curb-stomping of the rest of the Big Ten is no accident given what happens off of it.


The meaning: Larry Johnson is 70 years old and just pulled off his best recruiting job yet after years of retirement rumors.

The context: Remember when Johnson was supposed to retire? Back in 2018, he addressed that speculation by saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” He wasn’t lying. Three years later, here he is signing a defensive line class of Tuimoloau, Sawyer, Michael Hall and Tyleik Williams. Johnson won’t do this forever. Maybe in three years when Tuimoloau and Sawyer leave for the NFL, he ultimately decides to hang it up. But as long as he’s still in Columbus, Ohio State will keep benefiting from having him around. 


The meaning: A grand total of 882 days passed between the first and last commitments in the class.

The context: The world was...different...back when Sawyer committed as the cornerstone of the 2021 class. He made the early pledge on Feb. 3, 2019. Tuimoloau finished it off 882 days later on July 4, 2021. Not a bad duo to bookend the class, and the defensive line.

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