Ohio State just picked up a hidden gem in the 2022 class, landing a prospect eerily similar to former unheralded prospect Chris Olave.
Four-star Chandler (Arizona) receiver Kyion Grayes committed to the Buckeyes today, giving them another talented pass catcher in their 2022 class and allowing them to once again stock pile the position for years to come.
Let's take a look at what Grayes gives Ohio State on and off the field:
On the field
Grayes has already heard the fan comparisons and the comparisons Brian Hartline has made. Many people believe he has a similar playing style and profile to that of Olave. That contingent includes Grayes himself.
In fact, Grayes has already been nicknamed “CO² 2” by some. Maybe “CO² Junior” or “Lil Olave” are other nicknames on the bench waiting to be used.
“Really, it was just crazy to think because I had never looked at him like that,” Grayes told Eleven Warriors about the comparison to the Buckeyes' star. “I knew who he was, but I didn’t really know he was like that. So when I looked him up, me and him are like the exact same kid, the exact same person.
“So it’s crazy to think about seeing him in that system. Every time I watch them on Saturday, I picture myself in their system and in that same spot. ... I looked at his 247 (profile), I looked at his film and his high school film, I looked at all of it and was like, ‘Dang, this is me. It’s just like me.’”
Seeing Olave's success coming from Mission Hills High School in California showed Grayes that there is a pathway to success in heading from out west to the Midwest.
“That’s why it’s crazy to me because I realized that West Coast kids still have a chance to go out there, especially with him committing behind two four-stars, he still went out there and against all the odds and look where he’s at now,” Grayes said.
Where Olave is at now is a star in Ryan Day's offense and a star in the Big Ten, as he's pushing for first-round NFL draft status as a near-lock to be taken in the first two rounds.
And where Olave is at now could be where Grayes will be one day down the road as a versatile piece that could be used in multiple ways by Hartline.
“I’ll go anywhere,” Grayes said. “Whatever he wants me to play. If you need me to play slot, Coach, I’m there. If you need me to play outside, I’m there. I’ll go wherever you need me to be. ... I kind of like the slot because I get to work against the linebackers, but at the same time I like to go deep so I like being on the outside.”
Ohio State began recruiting Grayes in January when quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis visited Chandler to try and meet Grayes in person. Grayes was actually in Miami that weekend participating for his travel 7-on-7 team so they didn't get to meet up, but that was one of the first key instances in which the Buckeyes showed they were truly interested in Grayes.
Grayes has been coached at Chandler by Chad Carpenter, a former Washington State receiver who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL draft, and that mentorship has helped him become a polished pass catcher.
“(Chad) knows his craft so Kyion knows how to get off press coverage, he knows how to stem, he knows how to shake people,” Chandler head coach Rick Garretson told Eleven Warriors. “What you have to do when you go to a place like Ohio State, it isn’t saying ‘Hey, Kyion go deep and let’s throw you a 50/50 ball.’ So he’ll come in with that foundation and that base to compete against the best players in the country that go to Ohio State. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t contribute early in his career.”
Garretson has been watching Grayes grow over the past two seasons playing for the Wolves. As a sophomore, Grayes led them in receiving, “which in our program is not easy to do,” says Garretson. He led them in catches (48) and yards (883) and added six touchdowns.
He followed that up with 556 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns on 28 receptions (19.9 yards per catch) in just eight games played as a junior en route to helping Chandler win a fifth straight state championship.
“He’s a YAC guy with the ball in his hands,” Garretson said. “I’m trying to picture (his growth) as a senior in high school and his skill level. Because he’s got the ability to go deep. He’s got the ability with the ball in his hands to make things happen, and he’s a big-time route runner. Not everybody in high school is like that.”
That's the ability and the pedigree Grayes is going to bringing to Ohio State when he presumably signs early next December. That's why he will be a fit in the Buckeyes' system.
“He can play inside or outside,” Garretson said. “We do that a lot with him in our attack. Obviously, you like it when safeties try to cover guys like that because safeties generally aren’t great cover guys. They’re usually run supporters. But he’s multiple enough and diversified to play in the slot or to play outside. He understands leverage. He understands space and how to go ahead and set things up. He has a very high football IQ as a junior in high school.
“Kyion’s not a 19-year-old guy. He doesn’t have facial hair on him. But when he develops and gets to be a 19- or 20-year-old kid, he’s gonna be a problem for whatever defenses he faces in college.”
Off the field
It's become a common theme to hear about the quality character of the players the Buckeyes are recruiting over the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes.
Grayes, Garretson says, is no different.
“He’s a phenomenal player. But as good of a football player as he is, he’s also an unbelievable kid,” Garretson said. “They use that word all the time ‘grinder,’ but that kid is. He really loves football. Not everybody does, but he does. And he really works at it, and you can see the production and the results in his play.
“He’s embraced by his teammates, and he embraces his other teammates’ successes. He’s just one of those guys, and it comes across so clear when coaches meet him and get to start knowing him. He’s got a great family situation and family life. He’s a really grounded guy, and not everyone’s like that. They’re not. He’s a privilege to coach. I’m happy to be a part of his young life here in high school.”
In the class
He is joining the Buckeyes' most loaded position in the program at receiver, where four five-stars (Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Emeka Egbuka, Burton) and four other top-100 overall players (Gee Scott Jr., Jayden Ballard, Marvin Harrison Jr.) reside in a jam-packed room. That doesn't intimidate Grayes.
“It’s more exciting to me because I feel as if I get the chance to play with all these great players and great people and build these bonds, and I feel like when my time comes, I wanna make the most of it,” Grayes said. “So it’s so much more rewarding getting that spot because I came from the literal bottom.”
When combined with five-star quarterbacks Quinn Ewers and Kyle McCord and the embarrassment of riches at the offensive skill positions in the 2021 class – including the No. 1 running back (TreVeyon Henderson), No. 1 receiver (Emeka Egbuka) and No. 1 offensive guard (Donovan Jackson) – the Buckeyes continue building something special for Ryan Day to work with.
The goal Ohio State's 2022 commits have set for their class is not just to finish with a better class than the Buckeyes' 2021 haul, it's to finish with the No. 1-ranked class in 2022 and the No. 1-ranked class of all-time.
With the addition of Grayes, they extend their lead on the top-ranked class in the country with 238.30 points as they have laid the ground work for another top-three finish. Their average player rating is now at 96.04. The all-time record was set by Alabama in the 2021 class with a 95.00 rating.