When college coaches flocked to Mountain View High School in Stafford, Virginia, the past few years, it was usually to see four-star 2024 linebacker Kristopher Jones, who has since transferred schools.
Jones, a one-time Ohio State target now committed to Georgia, was worthy of the attention, as he’s considered the No. 9 linebacker prospect and the No. 2 player in Virginia in the 2024 cycle per 247Sports’ composite rankings.
But Mountain View head coach Lou Sorrentino also made sure college coaches looked at defensive tackle Eric Mensah, who has started on varsity for all four years of his prep career.
“Kris was a really hot recruit and was the No. 1 ranked player in Virginia for a while,” Sorrentino told Eleven Warriors. “Everybody came in (for Kris), but we made sure they got a chance to lay eyes on Eric. Because Eric was right there with him even though they’re different players and play different positions. Everybody just loved Eric then, and he’s just gotten better and better.
“Pretty early on, I knew he had a shot to play Power Five football. We don’t start too many freshmen. Physically, he could do it. But at least by his sophomore year, all those guys that came in to see Kris, we made sure also checked out Eric and most of them really liked him.”
Now considered a three-star recruit, Mensah picked up several Power Five offers after impressing coaches with his work ethic and tenacity. He found his way onto Ohio State’s radar this summer after a big junior campaign where he recorded eight sacks and forced three fumbles. In June, Mensah attended a recruiting camp to get some work with OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson and grow their relationship. He left that camp without an offer but made an impression on Johnson nonetheless.
Mensah estimates he was eventually offered by Johnson “about a month or two ago” and doesn’t remember when, exactly, since he didn’t announce the offer publicly.
“It was sometime after I came up there to their last camp in June,” Mensah told Eleven Warriors.
After Mensah picked up the offer, he said Johnson checked in with him between weekly and every other week.
“Those conversations have been good, especially when he’s giving me teachable moments,” Mensah said. “He’ll tell me what I need to work on, what I’m perfect at and what I need to fix and add on. It’s really helpful information.”
Initially, Mensah opted to stay close to home, committing to Virginia Tech in July. But he always was intrigued by what Ohio State had to offer. Mensah visited Columbus for the Buckeyes’ home opener against Youngstown State on Sept. 9.
“While I was watching Ohio State’s defensive line play, I was just like, ‘Wow.’ Their power getting off the line and seeing their explosiveness and pursuit to the ball and everything just brought joy to me,” Mensah said. “They’re a really disciplined team and you know they know what they’re talking about and they know what they’re doing.”
One day after attending Ohio State’s season opener, Mensah told Johnson in person he was in. He became the third defensive lineman in the Buckeyes' 2024 cycle, joining five-stars Justin Scott and Eddrick Houston, and the 22nd commit in Ohio State's No. 2 nationally ranked class.
“You look at Ohio State and their history and tradition,” Sorrentino said. “It’s big-time football. We were looking closer to home, to be honest with you. He had good visits all the way around, and we didn’t push too much out, but then the OSU visit went really well. The family loved coach Johnson, and he made them feel comfortable. I think coach Johnson had a big influence on that.”
He publicly announced his flip from Virginia Tech later that week.
“He was really happy and excited. Like, really excited,” Mensah said of Johnson. “What made me want to be a Buckeye was the fact that Ohio State’s program was really good, and the love the coaches showed me while I was up there was immaculate. The relationship we built, even though it was in a short amount of time, was still everything I wanted from a coaching staff. Coach Larry Johnson and coach Ryan Day are both really good people.”
At 6-foot-3 and nearly 300 pounds, Johnson has told Mensah he views him as a three-technique at the next level.
“He’s a big kid that can run,” Sorrentino said. “He’s about 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, he’s been a four-year starter for us. He just learns and grows each year as far as the game is concerned. He’s been a super kid to coach. He’s outgoing, always has a big smile on his face and if there’s a big dance party, he’s usually in the middle of it. He’s beloved by everybody. As a football player, he’s got those traits you look for. We move him all around the line, he can pass rush, he can stuff the run, he’ll chase down the ball carrier and he plays hard. Like I said, he’s been a coach’s dream for us.”
The Virginia product said he’ll be back in Columbus for the Maryland and Penn State games and added that he plans on being an early enrollee at Ohio State and will arrive on campus in January and participate in spring football.
“One of the things that I’m really looking forward to is the development and the change that I’ll see when I’m there physically,” Mensah said. “And being around a new type of brotherhood. I can just tell the brotherhood over there is really good. I’m just excited for all of that.”