For a few months, it seemed inevitable.
But even after Ohio State surged ahead in Brandon Inniss’ recruitment in the spring, landing his commitment on Tuesday still seemed all too surreal.
The Buckeyes hoped to have a shot at convincing Inniss to join them last summer, but he eventually opted for Oklahoma. When a decommitment put him back on the market, Brian Hartline wouldn’t miss out again. Not when it counted.
Inniss couldn’t pass up a chance to get developed by Brian Hartline, who he has described “as like no other coach” in the past.
Despite having a terrific relationship with offensive guru Lincoln Riley, who was the main reason behind his earlier commitment to Oklahoma, Inniss opted for what Ohio State had to offer the second time around in his recruitment rather than following Riley to USC.
He’ll join a loaded wide receiver corps filled to the brim with talent, including another five-star wideout in his own class in Carnell Tate. Yet his prospect pedigree suggests he’ll have a chance to become a star in his own right – and perhaps right away.
On The Field
There wasn’t much Inniss didn’t showcase last season for American Heritage High School (Plantation, Florida). The 6-foot, 190-pound wideout only got to play his natural position for three games before becoming the team’s emergency quarterback for the final seven games due to injuries.
Inniss held his own at the position, though, and became a true stat-stuffer. In 10 games for American Heritage, Inniss caught 17 passes for 341 yards (20.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns while also running for 308 yards on 44 carries with two touchdowns. As a quarterback, Inniss completed 41 of 98 passes for 604 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He’ll be eager to return to his natural position of wide receiver for his senior year and his three to four years in Columbus.
Inniss may not be the fastest receiver in the class, but he arguably runs the best routes of any prospect in 2023. Regardless of where he lines up, Inniss shows great awareness and exploits holes in defenses. He consistently makes plays, sometimes beating double coverage. Inniss doesn’t have the longest frame out there but you wouldn’t know that from looking at him and seeing him play on the field, as Inniss often makes stretched-out catches and never shies away from contact. He is a physical receiver with a mean competitive streak.
It’s hard for any freshman wide receiver to earn a starting job at Ohio State in his first season, but Inniss is about as college-ready as a prospect as they come, so he’ll certainly have a chance to see some snaps out of the gate. Inniss' ideal position seems to be in the slot, serving the same role Jaxon Smith-Njigba played for the Buckeyes last season. He could also play outside if asked, though.
In The Class
Hartline’s wide receiver recruiting has been nothing short of remarkable.
With Inniss in the fold, Hartline has now landed 13 wide receivers ranked as top-100 players nationally in the past five recruiting cycles. Inniss is the sixth wide receiver ranked within the top 50 to choose the Buckeyes in that same time frame.
According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Inniss is the 18th-best player nationally and the No. 2 wideout in the 2023 class.
With Inniss’ commitment, Ohio State now has 13 commits total. Six of those commits currently live in Florida, giving the Buckeyes more players from the Sunshine State than they have from Ohio (five) in their 2023 class. Other Florida prospects to give the Buckeyes their verbal in the cycle include Tate, Mark Fletcher, Bryson Rodgers, Dijon Johnson and Cedrick Hawkins.
Inniss will be surrounded by some familiar faces when he arrives in Columbus. For starters, Inniss is both 7-on-7 and high school teammates with Fletcher. Hawkins and Tate both also play on South Florida Express with Inniss, and Hawkins started the run of SFE players committing to the Buckeyes when he pulled the trigger during the Rose Bowl.
“That’s my guy, Ced,” Inniss told Eleven Warriors of Hawkins at the All-American Bowl in January. “So I know what he’s going to bring to Ohio State. He’s a great kid.”
Inniss is the third wide receiver in the current class to give his verbal to OSU along with Rodgers and Tate. Ohio State will remain in hot pursuit of four-star North Carolina receiver Noah Rogers as it hopes to finish off its wideout recruiting for the current class sooner rather than later. Should Rogers also commit to OSU, the Buckeyes’ 2023 wide receiver class will be complete.
If Rogers elects to stay in his home state and play for North Carolina or North Carolina State instead, OSU will have to weigh whether or not to take just three wideouts in the 2023 class or still pursue a fourth wide receiver. Should they opt to take a fourth, the Buckeyes may ramp up their pursuit of Rico Flores, who is scheduled to make an official visit this weekend and announce a commitment on July 3.