Enokk Vimahi has changed his plan.
As a Mormon, the left guard once expected to take a two-year mission trip after his freshman season at Ohio State, putting his college football career on hold until 2022. However, he confirmed on Saturday night that he will instead remain in school next season.
Vimahi said it was a tough decision but one he felt that was best for him.
When asked about the possibility of Vimahi taking a mission trip on Feb. 19, the day he signed his National Letter of Intent, Ryan Day was noncommittal.
“It's something that he and his family will decide kind of at the end of this year and go from there,” Day said in February. “If they decide that they want to go for a two-year mission, then we'll support that. He'd go away for two years, and then come back.”
With Vimahi’s decision now set, he’s expected to return next season as a redshirt freshman, having played in three games so far.
He made his college football debut in the second half of the regular season with 16 snaps against Maryland. The following week, he played 39 snaps in the blowout of Rutgers. On the final two drive of the game versus Michigan, he played seven snaps at guard.
Vimahi has made a notable physical transformation since enrolling at the university in June, when he began working with Mickey Marotti and the rest of the strength and conditioning staff. Initially, he weighed just 258 pounds. By the beginning of August, the 6-foot-4 lineman was already up to 294 pounds.
"It's huge," Vimahi said on Saturday. "I'm pretty sure all you guys have known about my gaining weight. Forty pounds. I came in at 257. Right now, I'm 295-297. That was a challenge for me but I definitely reaped the benefits from that, especially learning from veterans now and seeing what they had to go through to win a Big Ten title."
Next year, due to the graduation of Jonah Jackson, Vimahi could find himself in competition for a starting job at left guard with Harry Miller, Gavin Cupp, Matthew Jones and Ryan Jacoby. Due to the experience of Cupp and seeming readiness of Miller, though, he’s viewed as somewhat of a longshot.
Regardless of his role next season, the Buckeyes viewed him as important enough to their future plans that they targeted him and landed him out of Hawaii. The pursuit included Day taking a commercial flight to meet him late in the process.
“O-line was an area of concern for us,” Day said in February. “We had to go out there and kind of uncover all the stones. Flying out to Hawaii, staying for three hours, getting on a redeye back to Columbus was part of that plan.
Out of Kahuku High School, Vimahi became the first Hawaiian to ever sign with the Buckeyes.
He graded out as the No. 124 overall prospect and the seventh-ranked offensive guard in the 2019 recruiting cycle. Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Oregon and others offered Vimahi scholarships before Ohio State swooped in and landed him on National Signing Day in the spring.