By Sanjay Kirpalani , National Recruiting Analyst
EL SOBRANTE, Calif. — There isn’t an ounce of hesitation for 4-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele when queried on a career path outside of football.
The 6’3”, 288-pounder from Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah, is clearly a fan of physical contact.
“If I wasn’t playing football, I’d be playing rugby right now,” Tufele told Bleacher Report. “I’d be trying to go pro in rugby. I love that sport. I’ve been playing since I was in seventh grade.”
A handful of offensive lineman at The Opening Oakland Regional last weekend are probably wishing he would make that switch permanently.
The nation’s No. 4 defensive tackle and the No. 59 player overall in the 2017 class was a menacing force all day long.
According to Tufele, his performance—which concluded with an invite to The Opening—validated any questions about his standing as one of the premier defensive linemen in the 2017 cycle.
“It feels amazing [to get that invite],” he said. “It’s like a weight off my back, and it feels great to accomplish this. I showed them that I can really play. Everyone has been wondering about it, but I just came out and showed that I can be a dominant player. I just showed that I can match up with everyone else in terms of skill and athleticism.”
With more than 20 offers to his credit, up next on his agenda is to sort out the main players in his recruitment.
“I haven’t really gotten around that much. The last visit I took was when I went to California to see USC and UCLA. That was two or three months ago,” Tufele said.
However, he does have a few trips in mind he would like to make before the upcoming season.
“Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and I want to visit Washington in the summer,” Tufele said. “Ohio State and Michigan have been coming at me really hard. Utah is always there too. They are around everyday. There’s a few more schools.”
In particular, one head coach at one of those programs has wasted little time in making a positive impression on him—even though he admits he was slightly intimidated when initially speaking with him.
“I’d say [Buckeyes head coach] Urban Meyer. He’s a really good guy,” Tufele said. “I used to be scared in talking to him. But he’s been awesome to talk to. He’s a great guy.”
The big man from the Beehive State reports a 3.3 GPA. Although he doesn’t have a major sorted out yet, he’s currently interested in pursuing a career in the medical field.
While he does have a few visits and programs on his mind, he’s in no hurry to make a decision—which he said could come on national signing day for now.
When it does come time to make the final call, a few factors will be critical in helping him arrive to that conclusion.
“I just want know if I can make an impact right away,” Tufele said. “The atmosphere of the school and how the players get along with the coaches will be important. I want it to feel like a family wherever I go.”
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.