COLUMBUS â€” Friday night yielded a huge win for the Ohio State football program on the recruiting trail.
Emeka Egbuka, the country’s top-ranked 2021 wide receiver, committed to the Buckeyes after nearly two years of recruiting from receivers coach Brian Hartline and head coach Ryan Day.
The decision by Egbuka came just two days after he returned from his highly-anticipated visit to Oklahoma, a trip that he had promised himself he’d take for months because he knew he’d not make a final choice without the visit occurring. The meticulous, analytical athlete wanted to check off every box before announcing a decision. But he’d known for more than a year that it would take a monumental shift for any other school to overtake Ohio State’s position in his recruitment. He needed time, though, for his parents — specifically his father Henry, to get on board with his way of thinking.
“My mom, she’s pretty open-minded and she didn’t really care where I went, as long as I’m happy,” Egbuka said during a Thursday interview. “But I want to a degree that means something as well. And I know that comes with going to Ohio State
“My dad on the other hand? He probably does more research than I do about the schools and stuff like that, and he thought the same as everyone did, that Ohio State is just a football factory. But the more he looked into it, the more he realized how great the academics were. And not just the academics, but the connections with the huge alumni network and the endowment funds. He realized this is a place that could actually take my brand to the next level as well. After we got on the Zoom call about the business school and all that it changed his mindset of Ohio State.”
There was a lot of discussion with Egbuka, his mother and father, and his head coach at Steilacoom (Wash.) High School, and not all of it was able to make it into his commitment interview or the initial analysis of his decision, so we here at Lettermen Row wanted to make sure broke down some of the more interesting tidbits.
Emeka Egbuka believes battle for J.T. Tuimoloau is three-team race
Emeka Egbuka is going to put on his recruiting hat for the Buckeyes with a focus on helping bring 5-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau into the mix with him. The two have known each other for years and have regularly discussed playing together at the next level. Tuimoloau has never visited Ohio State, but Egbuka believes the Buckeyes are fighting with Alabama and Washington for his eventual signature — though he says two programs — Ohio State and Alabama — may have a leg up. His recruitment could go all the way until April.
No final decision yet about enrolling early at Ohio State
Though he’s done everything needed to be able to enroll early, Emeka Egbuka has not yet decided if he will. He’s just shy of a number of state records in Washington and wants to have a chance to win a state championship at Steilacoom after finishing as the runner-up as a junior. However, his family is fully on board with him making the move in the next three weeks — as is his coach, Colby Davies.
“I’ve told ‘Mek that he’s ready and that it’s time to go,” Davies told Lettermen Row. “But I’m going to be just as happy if he wants to come back.
“He’s grounded. He’s loyal. He’s committed to us and all those things play into it. Making it about him is not his style, but he knows how important is to this program and he wants to do everything he can for this program, plus he’s just very methodical and meticulous. He’s going to create his own path.”
If he enrolls early, Egbuka wants to room with quarterback Kyle McCord so they “can learn the offense together, faster.”
Emeka Egbuka wants to wear No. 2 at Ohio State
There’s an assumption that Chris Olave will be departing the Buckeyes roster after this season, and that means Egbuka’s preferred number should be available when he arrives at Ohio State.
“I want to wear No. 2,” he said. “That’s always been my favorite number, because Emmitt Smith was my favorite player. But come on, you can’t wear No. 22 as a receiver, so I switched it to a single-digit.”
When he was told that one of the best receivers in football history — Cris Carter — wore No. 2 at Ohio State, he was a little surprised to hear that.
“I didn’t even know Cris Carter went to Ohio State,” Egbuka said. “That dude had some of the best hands of all-time.”
Ohio State faced challenge with distance from home
Ohio State felt comfortable to Egbuka right away, but his mother recalled a conversation about the distance from home during his last visit to Columbus in Oct. 2019, especially how it’d impact his ability to see his younger siblings grow up.
“We were in Ohio, the last trip we took there and it was after the game and we were just hanging out in the hotel, wrapping up our day and just talking,” Rhonda Ogilvie told Lettermen Row. “And he’s like, it’s going to be so hard coming this far and not seeing you, not seeing Keanan (10) and Eva (7) grow up.
“I told him you can not make your decision based on us. Absolutely not. You have to do what’s best for you and for your future and we will make it happen. We will get out there to see you, to do whatever we have to do. I think definitely this time, he did make the decision for himself. I mean, I think we’ve all known leaving the state was the right thing for him. For a while, I’ve felt that Ohio State was the best choice for him. But I didn’t try to lead him to that. We didn’t I didn’t want to be an influence in his decision. I wanted him to make it because he’s the one who has to live with it. Not us, you know? I’m just really proud of him.”
There’s still a lot more coming on the recruitment and commitment of Emeka Egbuka, and the latest episode of Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast breaks down it down a bit further. There’s also discussion about how Egbuka impacts receiver recruiting in 2022. Spencer Holbrook joined the show to look at the rumors and troubles facing LSU and whether or not the Buckeyes could make a move on some of the Tigers top commitments or potential transfers.
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