With his dad sitting on his right side and his mother seated to his right on a podium at St. Monica Recreation Center in Cincinnati, Darrion Henry told the world his decision: he will head east on Interstate 71 to play for Ohio State.
Shortly thereafter, Henry spoke to reporters in attendance, and once again, his father was over his right shoulder, and his mother was standing to his right. This time, though, his dad couldn’t stop crying.
“It's great,” Henry said. “We've been through a lot. For this to come upon us is great.”
Henry, a four-star defensive tackle who plays from Princeton High School in Cincinnati, could have chosen to play football just about anywhere.
As the No. 121 overall prospect and the second-ranked Ohioan in the class of 2020, he had offers from Alabama, LSU, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Michigan, Georgia and a slew of others. Name a program in the Big Ten, SEC or ACC, and he probably held an offer from them. Henry checked out quite a few campuses and took official visits to LSU and Tennessee.
Ultimately, though, he opted to remain in his home state and play for Ohio State.
“Overall, it was just a great experience in the process,” Henry said. “But I'm a Buckeye, so you know I'm ready.”
He spent years building relationships with Ohio State’s coaches, especially defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who he has seen mold countless recruits into quality college players, many of whom have progressed to play in the NFL.
“Coach Johnson, coach (Ryan) Day, great guys,” Henry said. “Coach Johnson produces guys. I've got a great opportunity to come here early and play. It's a great plan for me to go to Ohio State right now.”
With the commitment of Henry, the Buckeyes now have the top-ranked 2020 recruiting class in the Big Ten and the No. 4 class in the country. Buoyed by a mega recruiting weekend on June 21, which included Henry on his official visit, Ohio State has picked up five commitments in the past week and a half, and it has positioned itself for that number to continue to grow in the coming days.
The addition of Henry gives the Buckeyes commitments from the top two in-state prospects in the 2020 and 2021 classes, including a pair of teammates – Henry and five-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson.
Henry and Johnson will both attend Princeton this fall before enrolling early at Ohio State
“It's great,” Henry said. “Great to get great reps in practice and get better. Obviously build up great bonds for the future.”
When asked whether they’d room together in college, laughed at the idea he hadn’t considered yet, but said they probably would. Despite that bond and the city they come from, though, Henry and Johnson weren’t intent on playing together at the next level.
He said, “Yeah, but no,” when asked whether it was a big deal to end up at the same school as Johnson.
“It just worked out for both of us, really,” Henry said.
He noted it will benefit both of them to face each other consistently in practices. Plus, they'll get a chance to play together this fall for Princeton.
“We've got talent here,” Henry said. “We've got a great opportunity to win state right now.”
At nearly 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, Henry likely will end up as a 3-technique on Johnson’s front, but his versatility will allow him to move around.
He’ll be a cornerstone of the defensive line coach’s 2020 recruiting class, which likely won’t feature many players. Hamilton joins Ty Hamilton, Davon Hamilton’s brother, as the second defensive lineman committed.
“I kind of figured I'd have an opportunity to do this if I put my mind to it, which I did,” Henry said. “So everything worked out.”
Eleven Warriors' David Wertheim contributed to this report.