The Hurry-Up: Derrick Davis Jr.’s Comfort Level “A Solid Nine” at Buckeye Bash, Bennett Christian Sounds Off on Jeremy Ruckert’s Nasty Block

By Zack Carpenter on October 27, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Derrick Davis Jr.

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.

Davis decision nearly cemented

TreVeyon Henderson provided some great details to Eleven Warriors about his first visit to Columbus and his Buckeye Bash experience, which cemented his decision to commit to Ohio State. There weren't really any worries about a decommitment or a flip there anyway, but even the smallest of concerns there are nixed.

Henderson also gave us some valuable insight into the Buckeyes’ recruitment of one of their final targets in the 2021 class, No. 2 safety Derrick Davis Jr., with Henderson saying “my confidence level is high” that Ohio State will wind up landing him over Penn State, LSU and Georgia.

Well, Davis himself talked about his Buckeye Bash visit over the weekend with Rivals’ Adam Friedman, and the Pittsburgh native says that his comfortability level over the weekend was also high:

Jack Sawyer was really cool,” Davis said. “He made me really come out of my shell. At first I was a little quiet but as I got to know him I saw he was a good dude.

“My comfort level, from one to ten, was a solid nine. The city was great and there's a lot to do and with the recruiting class we shared a nice little bond.”

Davis is visiting LSU this coming weekend, and after that he tells Friedman that his decision, no matter where he decides to go, will finally be cemented at long last:

“It's going to come down to this weekend really,” Davis said. “After this weekend I'll have my mind made up. I want to go to the school that has the perfect environment for me, that will develop me as a young man and hopefully become a future NFL draft pick.”

Christian sounds off on Ruckert’s nasty block

By now, you may have seen the play that had Bennett Christian’s dad going bananas in the tight end commit’s Georgia home on Saturday.

On the Buckeyes’ first drive of their win over Nebraska, Jeremy Ruckert is lined up as an H-back in a shotgun formation and cuts back inside to block on a run play. He annihilates Cornhuskers outside linebacker Nick Henrich and pushes him around a bit more at the end of the play. It only led to a two-yard gain by Master Teague, but that still put a smile on the father of a future Ohio State tight end who’s glad his son chose the Buckeyes.

“I noticed that they were absolutely just destroying dudes,” Christian told Eleven Warriors said of what he saw from Ruckert and Luke Farrell in the season opener. “Ruckert pulled around on a counter or something, and he absolutely just decleated somebody. My dad was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That was awesome.’ I thought they looked really fast, athletic and physical. They were playing good football.”

“They thought I could kill people and blow people off the ball”

Ohio State’s usage, or lack thereof, of its tight ends in the passing game is well-documented, and we talked a couple weeks ago about how Ruckert being used as a receiver this season could be the make-or-break factor in whether or not the Buckeyes land four-star Benji Gosnell, who is more of a pass-catching prospect who can be used on the outside rather than being used as an in-line blocking tight end. (Ruckert finished the Nebraska game with one catch for six yards; Farrell finished with one catch for five yards.)

But as we often talk about, there is a lot more that goes into being a tight end at Ohio State than just being a pass-catcher, and that was on display Saturday in the run game.

The Buckeyes are still hunting for that second tight end in the 2022 class, but as of right now, they already have one who brings the all-around skillset that they like in the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Christian.

“That’s what they say all the time is they loved how complete of a tight end I was,” Christian said. “They thought I could kill people and blow people off the ball and that I showed off athletic ability, that I had soft hands and can run past people, get open and make big plays downfield with the chances I did have. They just loved that completeness about me.”

As for how the Buckeyes found him, that’s not something we had really discussed much in the weeks leading up to his Sept. 1 commitment.

Turns out, sometime this offseason, it was Tim Hinton, Ohio State’s executive director of football relations, who first saw Christian’s tape and knew he was a prospect the Buckeyes needed to start recruiting.

“I asked him this, too,” Christian said, explaining that he had also asked Hinton how he got on Ohio State’s radar, “and he said he was looking through tight ends and he said, ‘All of a sudden, here comes Bennett Christian.’ At the time, all I had was like four offers from Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan State and South Florida. They found me, and he was like, ‘Wow, OK.’ And he called me immediately that day, and from there we kind of hit it off. Five months later, I got an offer.

“I had gained other offers from Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, all those other teams (by the time Ohio State offered). They came during that time, and then I got Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee, which were my top three, and those all came within 24 hours. I don’t really know how they found me, but God bless that they did find me.”

So Christian – who says he’s put on about 10 pounds between last season and this season and says he feels noticeably faster when he runs downfield – could provide some of those same types of blocks that Ruckert laid down on Saturday by the time he starts getting snaps at Ohio State. For now, he’s working on helping his 5-0 Allatoona (Georgia) team make a return to the state championship as he continues to enjoy life after his commitment – though he’s starting to get a taste of what comes with the territory of being an Ohio State commit.

“First off, things have been really good since committing. But at the same time, after committing, I feel like there’s a lot of eyes on me from my peers and stuff, and I’ve gotta step up as a leader,” Christian said. “I’ve gotta lead by example and set a good example for Ohio State recruits and Ohio State in general. Everything I do, I have to do it 100 percent. It kind of reminds me, if I’m skipping reps, to always finish my sets and always go past the line (in sprints) and kind of have that leadership aspect to it.

“You would think that (the spotlight makes it more difficult), but at the same time I kind of like it. It kind of motivates me to play better and go harder. Of course, defenses will talk and say ‘You’re not good’ or something like that, and say, ‘Ohio State that’ or ‘Ohio State this.’ So it’s, ‘All right, I’m gonna show you,’ so it kind of gets me angry. So I have something to prove, and I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way.”

Allatoona runs a Power-I, and Christian says his team runs the ball about 90 percent of the time. The fact that he’s leading the team with seven receptions says plenty about the team’s run-pass tendencies. And his response to not having the ball thrown his way that often shows that he’ll fit in well at Ohio State, as he already has a mentality similar to Farrell and Ruckert when they’ve been asked about a lack of targets in the passing game.

“We run the ball every drive, and it works,” Christian said. “We run it down their throat. I would love to get more passes, selfishly, but if the team’s winning, the way we’re winning I wouldn’t wanna try and be selfish.

“That’s one thing about me is I’ll never complain about how I’m being used. If we’re winning, we’re winning, and I already know what I’m gonna be doing for my future so I’m not worried.”

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