Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Hart, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound three-star product from Cherokee Trail in Aurora, Colorado, is the No. 15-ranked tight end in the 2021 class and a top-five player in the state.
Let’s take a look at how Hart will impact the Buckeyes’ 2021 recruiting class.
On the field
Hart moved to Colorado about five years ago when his dad got a new job. His father was a center for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Hart was raised a Minnesota Vikings fan.
That made him a huge fan of Vikings star Kyle Rudolph, and he watches both Rudolph and Travis Kelce intently and as often as he can. He may not quite yet be a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end like those two Ohio natives, but he has the potential to develop into a very formidable player for the Buckeyes in his collegiate career.
Right now, he seems to fit a pass-catching mold more similar to 2020 signee Joe Royer than 2019 signee Cormantae Hamilton, but Hart brings versatility at his position.
“I think they could build me as an all-around tight end because they’ll do a lot of blocking, and they’ll get you the ball,” Hart told Eleven Warriors in November. “I’d be very versatile, and they’ll build you off the field too, as a great person. I met a few of the tight ends, and they seem like awesome people off the field, and I really like that.”
He already speaks like a true tight end off the field.
“On the field, I’ll be giving it my all and do whatever the coaches ask,” Hart said. “Off the field, I’m gonna try to be the most respectful person I can be and listen to the coaches and what they tell me. Be a great teammate and be a positive leader.”
Off the field
Hart took an unofficial visit to the Ohio State-Penn State game on Nov. 23 and came away extremely impressed with a program he was already high on.
Following that visit, he told Eleven Warriors that Ohio State was in his “top one or two” and that a commitment was coming in the spring or earlier to whichever program he was going to choose. Turns out, his incredibly strong relationships with running backs coach Tony Alford (a former Colorado State running back and high school coach in Colorado) and offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Kevin Wilson were enough to land him.
What the Buckeyes will be getting in Hart outside of the lines is someone who's willing to take a leap outside of his comfort zone. Hart absolutely loves living in Colorado, citing the countless amount of outdoor activities to do in the state (hiking, fishing or skiing in the mountains are some of his favorites).
“You’re never bored there,” Hart said.
But it's time for a change for Hart. He knows that Colorado will be waiting for him when he gets back, as he says his parents will most likely be living there the rest of their lives, so a move to Columbus was in the cards.
"I think I kinda wanna venture out a little bit because I know my parents will always live here – for the rest of their lives, probably – and I’ll always have a spot back here," Hart said in November. "And I might move back after college, but I don’t know. Just seeing a different part of the United States, that’d be pretty cool."
In the class
As we've mentioned no less than a dozen times over the past few months, Ohio State is seeking two tight ends in this class, so 50 percent of its work is now complete.
In the 2019 and 2020 classes, the Buckeyes snagged one tight end apiece, and Wilson told Eleven Warriors during Fiesta Bowl Media Day that he loves the combination they got in Hamilton and Royer.
While Royer gives the program more of a pass-catching type who could become dangerous in the vertical passing game, Hamilton is more of a fullback/blocking type of player who will be utilized more in the run game.
Perhaps that means the Buckeyes will now search for a tight end whose main strength lies in blocking, as it seems Hart's will still lie with his pass-catching and route running.
The top tight end Ohio State would love to land in this class is four-star Hudson Wolfe, but it's been sounding like for a while now that Alabama has the upper hand in his recruitment.
For now, the Buckeyes at least have one tight end in the fold, and he's giddy about joining the scarlet and gray and giving the team all he's got. He said he's expecting the Buckeyes to take another tight end in his class, and it doesn't change his mind at all, especially since he got to see up close how much the offense used two-tight end sets this year.
“They told me they want two tight ends in my class, and Coach Wilson told me that he’s looking for an all-around tight end,” Hart said. “He said a lot of the top tight ends right now are just receivers, and he wants one who can block and do everything.
“I sat through a meeting with Coach Wilson and their tight ends after the game. They all seem super respectful to Coach Wilson, and I really like Coach Wilson. He’s always super positive with them. He’s never negative. He criticizes, but it was constructive criticism and really positive. I really like that.”