Fact or Fiction: J.T. Tuimoloau will end up playing in the Pac-12

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney along with South-Central analyst Sam Spiegelman, Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt and Joseph Hastings of BuckeyeGrove.com tackle three topics in recruiting and determine whether they believe the statements or not.

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1. J.T. Tuimoloau will end up staying home and playing in the Pac-12.

J.T. Tuimoloau

J.T. Tuimoloau (Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FICTION. I’m torn on this question because visits are going to be important and the conventional thinking is that Ohio State and Alabama have an edge over the Pac-12 programs but there’s really no firm details to believe that’s completely true. Some think that if J.T. Tuimoloau was going to Washington, he just took another visit there and he could just end it and pick the Huskies. That’s why I still think Oregon and USC have a shot but really believe the Buckeyes hold the edge over the Crimson Tide. If I had to pick today, I’d say Ohio State. But June visits are going to be crucial.

Hastings’ take: FICTION. Yes, one can say the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing dead period has allowed Tuimoloau to spend more time around his family, and it will thus make him more inclined to stay home. The biggest beneficiary of that would seemingly be the Oregon Ducks, a staff that has already shown they can dip into enemy territory and land a five-star defensive end in Kayvon Thibodeaux.

I’m not in that camp, however. Although Tuimoloau and his family are keeping things close to the vest, Ohio State has been viewed as the favorite for nearly a year now. Just because there have not been any concrete developments does not mean they’ve lost any momentum with him. And even if the Buckeyes miss out on Tuimoloau, the Alabama Crimson Tide — which has a rich tradition of signing coveted d-linemen — would be my next choice. This will come down to his visits, but I expect Tuimoloau in the Big Ten or the SEC.

***** 2. Arizona State is a real contender to land five-star S Jacoby Mathews.

Jacoby Mathews

Jacoby Mathews (Sam Spiegelman)

Gorney’s take: FACT. I know this sounds really hard to believe because LSU makes so much sense and the five-star safety likes Florida a lot plus Clemson and Texas are high on the list but I really believe the Sun Devils have a very strong chance in Jacoby Mathews’ recruitment. His relationship with the Arizona State coaching staff especially position coach Chris Hawkins is a big selling point and current pledge Alfonzo Allen is working hard to get Mathews in the class. Does the five-star end up signing with LSU? That’s a very good possibility but Arizona State definitely has Mathews thinking.

Spiegelman’s take: FICTION. I am not denying that Arizona State is a legitimate contender, but I think that the Sun Devils have several other notable schools ahead of them in Mathews’ pecking order. The five-star safety, who is tabbed as the No. 1 prospect in Louisiana for 2022, is also very high on Florida, Texas, Alabama, LSU and the Clemson offer brought a certain gravitas to the equation. Mathews have been cultivating relationships at several of those schools for years to this point, and while he has connections abound at Arizona State, I like the odds of one of these SEC teams reeling in the elite defensive back when it’s all said and done.

***** 3. Texas is the early front-runner for 2023 four-star LB Drayk Bowen.

Drayk Bowen

Drayk Bowen (Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FICTION. Texas just offered Drayk Bowen and he told Rivals.com’s Josh Helmholdt that he grew up watching the Longhorns, his dad is from the state and he still has some family living in Texas. If he can get down to Austin for a visit soon then the Longhorns could emerge as the clear frontrunner but it’s still early and I do think Notre Dame has the edge. As much as playing at Texas appeals to Bowen, playing an hour away in South Bend might be even more tempting. Texas definitely has a shot because of all those connections but I could definitely see Bowen staying in the Midwest

Helmholdt’s take: FICTION. If there is an early front-runner in the race for Bowen I would probably lean toward it being Notre Dame, not Texas. I am not sure there is any front-runner right now, though, and I definitely know there is a lot of recruiting to be done before Bowen makes his college selection. Texas offered earlier this week and was a team Bowen grew up following. I do see the Longhorns being a strong contender in his recruitment, but it would be premature to call them a front-runner at this point.