Thayer Munford craved a celebratory steak dinner Wednesday.

The 21st and final piece in Ohio State’s recruiting class had sacrificed so much to reach this day. Munford moved from Cincinnati to live with Nate and Becca Moore in Massillon. Nate Moore coached Munford at La Salle High School before taking the job as Tigers coach.

He endured a seven-week Ohio High School Athletic Association suspension last fall because of the organization’s skepticism that the move was not football-related. Munford had to wait until nearly the end of the recruiting process for an Ohio State offer.

And, not least painful of all, the offensive tackle adhered to a strict diet that enabled him to lose 50 pounds. That meant salad for lunch. For dinner, the main course would be either grilled chicken, or, if Becca deemed otherwise, zucchini.

“I was praying when I got home just to get chicken,” he said Wednesday afternoon after he announced the commitment he had secretly made a few days ago.

With his family joining him from Cincinnati, Munford wanted to celebrate with a respite from his diet.

“We had Jimmy John’s,” he said. “I’m trying to push it so I can have steak.”

Munford weighed more than 360 pounds when he moved last March to live with the Moores at the request of his mom, MeLisa Thompson. She and Munford said the move was made for academic, not football, reasons.

“He wasn’t getting the help he needed,” Thompson said. “He was asking for it, and no one helped him.”

Nate Moore said that Munford was on the brink of reaching the point of no return academically.

Still, it was a hard decision for Thompson. She is disabled and relied on Munford, her only child. But she understood his predicament and chose to endure having him live hours away.

“He’s a good kid and he’s willing to work hard for what he wants,” Thompson said. “He’s proven that to this day. I am so honored and thankful to God that I did make the choice I did.”

The reward came when he signed with Ohio State, his dream school.

“My emotions were overwhelming,” Munford said. “I didn’t know what to feel. I just wanted to cry because I’d made it this far.”

Munford is four-star prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings. He is considered the 28th-best tackle prospect nationally and 280th overall prospect.

“He has all the things you look for in a top-flight offensive lineman if you look at flexibility, hip and ankle flexion, arm length and size,” Moore said. “He’s probably the most powerful kid I’ve ever been around.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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