When North Carolina four-star tight end Benji Gosnell released his final three, it was one of the less flashy, way more subtle announcements of a top schools list that you’ll find.
No extravagant graphic or big lead-up to the announcement. Just a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tweet with three hashtags of his final three programs of Ohio State, North Carolina and Florida.
That under-the-radar announcement was perfectly on brand for the type of player and person Gosnell is. He’s not a clout chaser and he’s a no-BS type of guy.
“I don’t like playing games, I don’t care about clout and all that,” Gosnell told Eleven Warriors. “I won’t play around. If I wanna go there, I’m gonna tell them and that’ll be the decision.”
Whenever Gosnell does get around to making his college commitment, there probably won’t be a lot of bells and whistles surrounding the announcement. But there won’t have to be in order for people to realize he brings a lot to the table as a tight end prospect.
For one, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from East Surry High School – one who is ranked No. 257 overall, No. 11 at tight end and No. 8 in North Carolina – is not shy about admitting the areas he needs to improve in and is more than happy to get on the field as often as possible to make it happen. That’s evidenced in the fact that he runs 100 routes with a quarterback and separately catches 100 balls from a JUGS machine three times a week to prepare for a February season. (North Carolina, like many states, pushed its high school fall sports seasons back to the winter or spring.)
In fact, when asked what he believes he needs to improve, that was when Gosnell seemed to relish the question because that’s the sort of mindset he has.
“The things that I think I need to improve on is definitely blocking,” Gosnell said. “I’m not gonna say I’m a bad blocker, but down to the details and specific techniques, I am working on that. I’m pushing the sled and getting hand placement down. Breaking down, getting good bases and stuff like that. That’s how I’m working on my blocking, and with my receiving, I’m working on a lot of routes. I work on every single route in the book at least 10 times a day. Whether it be on air or catching it, just getting the technique down of running those certain routes based on what coverage they’re in, whether I need to sit down in the zone or keep running and fighting off a defender in a man coverage situation.
“I’m trying to improve my body control up in the air because as a tight end. I wanna be able to be a mismatch down in the red zone. I want the quarterback to just be able to throw it up to me and have him trust that I’ll just go up and get it. Being able to have air awareness of knowing where I’m at and knowing where the sideline’s at and everything like that. Just trying to overall improve everything in my game.”
All of those necessary improvements are essentially stemming from self-scouting and advice he’s gleaned from his older brother, Stephen Gosnell, a receiver at the University of North Carolina.
“Basically, what I do a lot is I reflect on myself as a player and look back,” Gosnell said. “I watch a ton of film on how I was and what I could’ve done differently and what I could’ve done better to get away from a defender or something. With my brother being a receiver and me being a tight end, he gives me drills to do and tells me things they do. He gives me a lot of knowledge and things that I can improve on, whether it be the receiving aspect of the game or the edge blocking aspect and blocking in space. I do have an advantage of him being a receiver in college.”
So far, Gosnell and Ohio State tight ends coach/offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson have not gone over what he needs to do better himself over the course of the next year, though Gosnell says that could be coming on their next Zoom call.
But Wilson has made it clear why the Buckeyes want him in their 2022 class.
“They just like the diversity I bring,” Gosnell said. “They really think I’m complete with edge blocking and between the tackles blocking and running outside of the tackles. Route running, hands, getting mismatches in one-on-one, whether it be outrunning a linebacker or the size differential between me and a safety or corner. They really like my diversity and my overall complete ways of playing.”
In addition to getting in depth on the ways he needs to improve his game and his skills as a tight end, Gosnell broke down his final three with us, starting with the Buckeyes:
- Ohio State: “I mean, shoot, the better question would be why not Ohio State? My relationship with Coach Wilson kicked off maybe last March. When we started Zoom, we were talking all the time. I called him at least once or twice a week. Always got to talk to him. Super genuine guy and knows what he’s talking about. He’s had great success everywhere he’s been. He’s taught guys like Rashod Berry now with the New England Patriots, (Jeremy) Ruckert is probably gonna be one of the best tight ends in the country, Luke Farrell on the Mackey Award watch list. (Wilson’s) success speaks for itself and the culture they have at Ohio State, man, it’s unlike any other. Coach Day’s a great person. He’s a fighter as a coach, he’s a leader as a coach. It’s a top program, and I love everything about Ohio State.”
- North Carolina: “With North Carolina, it’s the connections I have there. The coaches are genuine, you have a great coach in Coach (Mack) Brown and Coach (John) Lilly the tight ends coach they brought in there, has a lot of experience coaching tight ends with the Browns. He knows what I can do. He said he’s heard a lot of good things, and he likes me. Chapel Hill is a really nice place. College town type. Good area and really good football that’s really on the rise. It’s a really cool place, I like it.”
- Florida: “Before Coach (Tim) Brewster went to Florida, he was at Carolina. He was at Carolina last football season and then in January or February, he went to Florida and we started talking about Florida. My relationship with Coach Brewster is great. He’s a real genuine guy. My head coach described him as a tight end guru. He coached Antonio Gates. He brought in Antonio Gates when nobody thought about him, and he turned out to be one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Just his success with tight ends and obviously the offense they run really fits around tight ends. Kyle Pitts is probably gonna be a first-round draft pick, almost definitely. Could be in the top 10 to 20. I don’t really like the hot weather, but everything else with Florida kind of outweighs my views on the weather.”
“I mean, shoot, the better question would be why not Ohio State?”– Tight end target Benji Gosnell
Out of those three, Gosnell says that he would “definitely” consider Ohio State as his No. 1 option right now, “but there are still some things to work out, for sure.”
Gosnell is looking into the possibility of doing what fellow Buckeyes tight end target Bennett Christian did recently by visiting Ohio State’s campus on his own dime to get a feel for the school. Gosnell says he’s looking to make a trip in early September if he can work it out.
“Yeah, I just really wanna see what it’s like and get a good feel for it,” Gosnell said. “Because we can see all these cool things and we can hear all these good things, but I really wanna get a good feel for things first.”