J.T. Tuimoloau’s first scholarship offer came from Washington.
And not just in football, either.
Tuimoloau — a five-star defensive lineman and the top recruit nationally in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports — earned his first football offer from the Huskies three games into his freshman season at Eastside Catholic High School in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 277-pounder would soon gain other offers from Ohio State, Alabama, USC, Stanford, Florida, Michigan, Auburn, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and many more.
While he has always expressed a desire to be a dual-sport athlete in college, he had yet to receive any actual basketball offers.
Now UW is reportedly the first program to offer Tuimoloau in both sports.
“Coach (Mike) Hopkins said when he was a coach at Syracuse, he coached Donovan McNabb, so he has had experience with this,” Tuimoloau told 247Sports.com national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman for a story published Thursday afternoon. “We also talked about Tony Gonzales and Julius Peppers. But this coming from coach Hopkins was big.”
Granted, the basketball scholarship offer is largely symbolic. Though Tuimoloau — who has been selected for the All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl following his senior football season — could conceivably play both sports at UW, he’ll ultimately sign a national letter of intent for football (thus freeing the basketball program to use said scholarship elsewhere). But Tuesday’s gesture makes it clear that UW is serious about providing him opportunities to succeed on the gridiron and the hardwood.
It will be interesting to see if Tuimoloau’s many football suitors soon follow with basketball offers as well. Because on Tuesday, Hopkins wasn’t simply selling a basketball program. He was also selling a city, a university and a state.
“Coach Hopkins said, whatever you want to do, we just want to let you know that Washington is a 40-year decision and not just four years, and Washington is determined to help grow men,” Tuimoloau told 247Sports.
As for UW’s football program, the Huskies currently have six verbal commits in the 2021 class — led by five-star Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard. That list also includes two three-star defensive linemen in Kuao Peihopa and Voi Tunuufi.