One look at Center Grove High School’s white board in the locker room tells you all you need to know about the football tradition of the Indiana-based school with more than 2,500 students.
In black Sharpie, a daily message is firmly centered: “What do you want your legacy to be?”
The Trojans just finished the regular season undefeated at 9-0 and enjoyed a bye week this weekend before playing their first game in the Indiana playoffs next weekend. Center Grove has won 23 straight games dating back to last season when it went a perfect 14-0 en route to a Class 6A state championship.
At the center of it all is 2022 four-star defensive lineman and priority Ohio State target Caden Curry, a monster in the defensive trenches for Center Grove.
“We’ve been winning since we went undefeated last year,” Curry told Eleven Warriors on Friday before the team began practice. “Finishing the regular season with an undefeated record so far, we’re hoping to get those next wins in the playoffs.”
Curry knows his school’s proud tradition well, and it extends beyond the past two seasons. Located in Greenwood, Indiana, Center Grove is the same program that produced former Ohio State defensive lineman and team captain Joel Hale in the 2011 class. Hale, who is now the CEO of the appropriately named Rushmen Logisitcs, is well aware his college alma mater is highly interested in his prep alma mater’s latest standout.
“I’ve talked to him a little bit,” Curry said of Hale. “He has a company called the Rushmen, so it’s kind of funny seeing that. He’s definitely a big Ohio State fan. He wants me to go there. A couple of weeks ago we exchanged messages on Twitter. He talks about coach (Larry) Johnson all the time and speaks of him as a good coach.”
For now, Curry’s first priority is trying to lead Center Grove to another state title. His recruiting will come secondary until Center Grove's playoff run is over; Curry says he won’t commit until sometime after that.
“I did (have a commitment date in mind), but then I kind of lost it because of this season honestly,” Curry said. “This season is more important than my recruiting right now. I’ll probably do it after the season, I won’t have time to do it during the playoffs.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s neglecting his recruitment. Curry visited Ohio State on Sept. 11 for the Buckeyes’ home opener against Oregon and spent time with true freshman defensive ends Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau while he was in Columbus.
“When I went on my visit, I sat down with Jack (Sawyer) and J.T. (Tuimoloau) in a room,” Curry said. “They just told me about it and how they fit in. They told me if I went there it would definitely be us three, honestly seeing that it would fit perfectly well. It was cool. Honestly just seeing that day-to-day basis from them after they’ve been there a few months is helpful.”
While seeing Sawyer and Tuimoloau get early playing time in their first years on campus is encouraging, that aspect by itself isn’t necessarily going to boost Ohio State over Curry’s other top five schools: Indiana, Oregon, Alabama and Clemson.
“Definitely getting out on the field to show in that freshman year getting those plays under my belt would be nice,” Curry said. “But honestly I can see myself getting into the program early anywhere I go with my top five, I feel like they all showed me how I can get in there early. That’s really not a factor.”
Stopped by football practice at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana, to see top Ohio State 2022 defensive line target Caden Curry. Hell be in Bloomington for tomorrows Ohio State/Indiana game and will be back in Columbus for next weeks Ohio State/Penn State game. pic.twitter.com/PKgFUcGG0O— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 22, 2021
Curry said he talks with Ryan Day and Johnson “at least once per week,” and that Johnson has told him he could play either inside or outside at the next level. Playing for Johnson is definitely a factor that makes Ohio State appealing for Curry.
“He’s been in the game so long he knows what he’s talking about,” Curry said. “He’s seen everything from what kind of player I could be and has seen players go through the process. He has good skills and coaches them in those drills.”
Some drill work from Caden Curry: pic.twitter.com/tknzsvKzF3— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) October 22, 2021
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman visited Indiana on Saturday during Ohio State’s 54-7 drubbing of the Hoosiers, and plans to make a return trip to Columbus this upcoming weekend for the matchup against Penn State.
“Definitely, I’ll be there next week for that game,” Curry said. “We have it marked down.”
Before Curry decides on a school, he wants to visit Oregon and Alabama, which he said his family his plans to do later this fall. Despite his intentions to take visits to those other schools, some in the recruiting industry consider Ohio State the heavy favorite to land the Indiana defensive end. But for now, Curry will focus on leading Center Grove to back-to-back championships.
“Definitely my football here comes first,” Curry said. “It’s my one season, I only get a chance to do this once and make some memories. Once this is over, I’ll probably get more on top of my recruiting, finish it off and then get to college.”