For the first time since the NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period was enforced in March, Ohio State had a prime-time uncommitted target visit campus this past weekend.
On Friday morning, Allatoona High School three-star 2022 tight end Bennett Christian and his father left Georgia and headed to Columbus for a quick trip that lasted until about Saturday afternoon, when the two returned home.
“It was just me and my dad. We went up there and we looked at everything,” Christian told Eleven Warriors. “Me, Coach (Kevin) Wilson and my dad, we mapped it out and drew it out on routes. So we saw literally anything and everything.”
To our knowledge, this was the first unofficial visit conducted by the Buckeyes on campus since the shutdown, but because of the recruiting dead period and because of COVID-19, coaches were unable to visit with him in person. So they improvised.
“We were on the phone, too, with Coach Wilson. He would explain each area and all that stuff,” Christian said. “We would talk, and he would just answer any questions. It was pretty much like he was there giving us a tour even though he wasn’t there. He just drew it up on the map. Literally everything on the campus, I saw.”
That included a full tour of the campus, where he saw the Ohio Union, walked up and down High Street and took a look at the athletic facilities, though they were unable to go inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“But I saw the practice field, and I saw the trophy room,” Christian said. “We were outside of it and I got a chance to see all of that.
“It was definitely different, but at the same time, who knows when visits are gonna open back up? You kind of have to take it in your own hands at this point.”
OSU is legit!!— Bennett Christian (@BennettC87) August 15, 2020
Christian said the overall trip was pretty much jaw-dropping, as Ohio State was only the third school he has visited other than Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
“It felt amazing. I can’t explain it. It was awesome,” Christian said.
And the No. 1 thing Christian and his dad took away from the visit?
“What stood out to me the most was all the naturistic part of it all and all the historic buildings,” Christian said. “It was really like an Ivy League, but it was Ohio State. It has an amazing football team, but it looked like Princeton. Me and my dad both kind of shared that. That’s what we were both kind of amazed by. That was my dad’s No. 1 thing as well.”
After that visit, Christian and his father were on the road back to Georgia. But it was an impactful visit, and the 16-hour round trip drive says plenty about how he views Ohio State.
Christian’s recruitment isn’t over. He will be announcing his decision on Instagram Live on Sept. 1, and Buckeye fans should probably feel pretty good about where they sit with him, especially after a pair of Crystal Ball predictions favoring Ohio State were dropped following the visit.
I will be announcing my commitment on September 1st on Instagram live at 8pm!! My Instagram is @Bennett_Christian_ !! Make sure you follow and tune in! #GoVols #GoBucks— Bennett Christian (@BennettC87) August 17, 2020
But Christan’s father is a former Tennessee player who suited up for the Vols in the 70s, and they will be taking a trip to Knoxville for a similar campus tour next weekend.
“The last time I went to Tennessee was eighth grade, and that was for a game,” Christian said. “Me and my dad just went there to watch a game. The score was like 40-0 because it was that year. I kind of wanna see all the parts of the campus. I’ve really only seen the stadium and the arena and that side of the campus. I really wanna see all the dorms and see all the major buildings I’ve never really seen before. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Penn State was also in Christian’s top three until last Thursday, when they accepted a commitment from four-star tight end Holden Staes, giving them two tight ends in the 2022 class in addition to Jerry Cross, a Milwaukee product who has been committed since July 28.
With two tight ends committed, Penn State was cut from his list.
“Coach (Tyler) Bowen was honest with me,” Christian said of Penn State’s tight ends coach. “He told me they were about to take Holden. So I just said that’s fine, Holden’s a great kid. Holden’s an amazing player so he’ll do great up there. With him and (Cross) that kind of wraps up recruiting in my class for tight ends. That’s the main reason. That’s pretty much gone now. It’s closed up.”
Ohio State is also expected to bring in two tight ends in the 2022 class, unless something unforeseen happens and the Buckeyes are able to land a second tight end late in the 2021 cycle. (Something we are not banking on at this point in time.)
A two-tight end class, however, will not impact Christian’s decision, he says.
“I don’t wanna sound cocky, but this is my mindset – hopefully this doesn’t sound bad – but how I carry myself is that I’m the best player on the field,” Christian said. “I would never tell anyone that because that sounds terrible, but that’s how I go into every game against whoever is lining up across from me: this person cannot compete with me.
“That’s the mindset I’m gonna have to bring with me, especially if I was at Ohio State because it’s the best team in the nation. I would have to bring that mentality that no one can compete with me, and I would have to show it. That’s how I compete. Bringing in another guy would not bother me one bit. That’s college football so that doesn’t bother me.”