The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Previewing Christian’s decision
We won't get too in-depth here, as we have been talking about Allatoona (Ga.) three-star prospect Bennett Christian's impending college commitment announcement for more than two weeks now.
But before he announces his decision at 8 p.m. ET on his Instagram Live tonight, we wanted to touch on it one last time.
Finally 17!! Anyway, todays the day baby!! 8pm Instagram Live!! Tune in @bennett_christian_— Bennett Christian (@BennettC87) September 1, 2020
Christian, the No. 19 tight end and No. 370 overall player in the country, is down to two schools – Ohio State and Tennessee.
In late July, that decision was down to three schools, with Penn State added in as the third. But after the Nittany Lions accepted a second tight end commitment in early August in their 2022 class, that wiped them off of Christian's board.
“Coach (Tyler) Bowen was honest with me,” Christian told Eleven Warriors of Penn State’s tight ends coach. “He told me they were about to take Holden (Staes). 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.”
So, now it comes down to the Buckeyes or Volunteers tonight as Christian takes center stage in both programs' recruiting worlds. The rising junior had plenty of good things to say about both schools when we spoke with him in July:
Ohio State: “The main reason is because they’re such a winning program. I really love Coach (Kevin) Wilson. All the coaching staff up there is amazing. It’s really one of those schools I’m interested in going to down the road. It’s one of those schools where I’d have a really good chance at winning a national championship and getting that ring there. There’s that winning aspect but not only that, the coaching staff is amazing. Just the feel of Ohio State football is it’s really a family thing. I’ve gotten the vibe of that recently. So now that I’m getting closer to making a decision, that’s one of those schools I might go with moving forward.
“Really, from the start of my conversations with Coach Wilson and the staff there, they said, ‘Bennett, listen, man. We’ve got about five guys in your class,’ and they said, in our opinion, you’re our favorite right now. Truly, it’s because I can do both in catching and blocking. That’s what they really like about me is I can block and run routes. That’s the main thing is how I’m really complete.”
Tennessee: “My dad played (as a defensive end) there under Coach (Johnny) Majors in the 70s, and my mom was a two-time All-American cheerleader there. Outside of those connections, it was the relationships I have with the coaches. I love the offense they run up there, and I could see myself fitting in there pretty well. Really, I love the fans. The fans are awesome, and it was just one of those things where you can feel the connections.”
Christian has done his homework, built relationships with coaches from each school, visited both campuses on his own dime in August, and now it's officially decision time on his 17th birthday.
Vernon “ready to attack”
Mentor (Ohio) High School defensive end Brenan Vernon was not pleased with his performance in his 2020 season debut last Friday night.
He told our own Colin Hass-Hill that he “didn't feel I was ready today. But, hey, that's what tomorrow's for. It's a new day. I'm here to get better.”
Great mentality to have, and in addition to his recruitment, that's exactly what Vernon spoke about at length following Mentor's 37-19 win over Medina – his strive to make this a breakout season.
“It all started with my base,” Vernon said when asked what he improved during the offseason. “I'm trying to get bigger, faster, stronger. But the technical standpoint, it's my sophomore season. I'm moving on to bigger, better things. Last season, coach just gave me a few points to go out there, do my job and that's that. Work hard, do my job. This year, there's a little more. I'm dropping back. I need to use my hands more in the pass rushes. It's a very important part of the season. Just a lot of things techical-wise and everything. It's a big step up from last year.”
Vernon says that he's felt he has undergone “a big change” since the last time he took the field for a game, but he's far from a finished product.
“I'm not pleased with where I'm at,” Vernon said. “Definitely a lot of work to take care of. But definitely some changes and I'm ready to attack the year, and I know my team is, too.”
In addition to being Ohio's top-ranked 2023 prospect, Vernon is ranked No. 9 overall and No. 3 at strongside defensive end nationally – both of which could improve if Vernon keeps adjusting and adding moves to his arsenal.
“Rush the edge. The pass-rush game,” Vernon said when asked what he wants to accomplish individually this season. “Being able to just dominate that edge. I didn't feel I had that tonight. But just being able to go off the ball and just dominate that person in front of me, whether that be the pass game or the run game. Either way, I'm here to dominate.”
Hall featured on video series
Those who have been following my Hurry-Ups since last September know that I've long been impressed with Streetsboro defensive tackle and Ohio State commit Mike Hall.
It's just always been noteworthy how he was able to rise through the rankings and work his way into the status of being one of the state's best players and one of the best defensive tackles in America's 2021 class.
Looks like Hall's work – and his senior season – will be on display in a video series that is coming in September as he looks to enjoy a successful sendoff before hitting Ohio State's campus.
Recruiting opens up for 2022 prospects
It's Sept. 1, which means that college coaches can officially be the ones to start conversations with high school juniors. Instead of needing a roundabout way of communicating with recruits through a third party – aka texting a recruit's dad telling him to have his son call him – college coaches can now text or call recruits directly.
Just means that recruiting is about to get even more hectic for recruits in the 2022 class, and being able to balance out communication and not hit exhaustion will be a key for all Ohio State targets.