When German-born Hero Kanu moved to the United States, he did so with wide eyes and dreams of excelling on the gridiron.
The 6-foot-5, 293-pound four-star defensive tackle Kanu, who grew up playing soccer and has only played football for a little more than two years, quickly burst on the recruiting scene with a raw talent and athleticism not commonly found in most high school football players. He knew he had a chance to be special, and he already has pro aspirations.
“I would say I was pretty good at (soccer),” Kanu told Eleven Warriors in September. “But for the long term, watching college football and the NFL, I might have a better chance at football than I have in soccer. Every young man’s dream I would say is being a professional athlete, being an astronaut or being a police officer, everybody has these dreams. For me, it was being a professional athlete.”
He believes the best chance to reach those goals is with Ohio State, as evident with Kanu announcing his commitment to the Buckeyes at the All-American Bowl. One of the biggest reasons Kanu is joining the Buckeyes is because of the reputation of defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
“I would say he’s really a person when it stands out when it comes to coaching,” Kanu said of Johnson. “He’s like a father figure, that’s the role he wants to play. His personality is really calm and he knows what he’s talking about. When he analyzes something I did in a practice, I see what he means. Nowadays, people always ask ‘Why do we have to do this drill, why does it help us?’ He’s really good at answering those questions and showing us examples.”
On the field
Considering his size, it’s incredible that Kanu can move with the quickness that he does. His motor is incredibly high, and he loves the physicality of the sport; he once told Eleven Warriors he’s the kind of guy that likes to headbutt a teammate on the sideline that’s wearing a helmet without wearing one himself. He often faced double-teams in high school and was still able to hold his own and disrupt plays.
He’s inexperienced and is still learning the ins and outs of the sport, which is understandable considering he’s only played football for a little more than two years since he was born in Germany and grew up playing soccer. But you can’t teach size and athleticism, and you can’t argue with results, and Kanu has both.
In 11 games for Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Rancho Santa Margarita, California) last season, Kanu made 55 total tackles (19 for loss) with nine sacks and 16 quarterback hurries. In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season where Kanu only played five games as a junior, he racked up 28 total tackles (nine for loss) with 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries.
“I would say that’s a pretty good feeling,” Kanu said of his fast success playing football. “If you’re good at something, you’re more likely to keep playing it. That’s one reason why I keep playing the sport.”
Kanu is talented enough to earn limited snaps in his freshman season, but it will likely depend on how quickly he acclimates to the college game considering his inexperience with the sport.
In the class
One thing Ohio State’s 2022 class was missing was a true defensive tackle, and the Buckeyes now have that with Kanu. Fellow signee Caden Curry played defensive tackle in high school and could play that position at the next level, but he has less size than Kanu and Johnson has told Curry he could play either inside or outside at the next level.
With 21 total players (19 signees and two commits), Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class is now just about full. As it stands, Ohio State will be bringing two five-stars, 17 four-stars and two three-star recruits to Columbus by next fall.
The Buckeyes would like to land one more defensive tackle, though, in Georgia four-star Christen Miller. If Ohio State can add Miller to the class, that would give the Buckeyes five total defensive linemen total even though they didn’t land their first defensive line commitment in the class until Oct. 19.
Miller does not plan to announce his commitment until National Signing Day, so fans will have to wait until Feb. 2 to see if there’s one more addition coming to the class. Regardless, a strong finish has ensured Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2022 will be one of the best in the country, addressing needs at every position, even if the Buckeyes don’t add anyone else to it.