The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their Buckeye careers as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Once Ohio State came calling, Drue Chrisman's recruitment all but ended. Urban Meyer knew he had two more years of Cameron Johnston's services in Columbus, but he couldn't let the nation's top punter in 2016 get away.
The Chrisman File
- Class: 2016
- Size: 6-4/200
- Pos: P
- School: La Salle (Cincinnati, OH)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: 1 (P)
From Cincinnati La Salle High School, Chrisman originally wanted to be a quarterback before an injury late in his freshman season threw a wrench into that dream.
"A defender landed on my arm and hyperextended it," Chrisman told Johnny Ginter and Michael Citro on the Eleven Dubcast in January. "I tore the same muscle that required Tommy John surgery.
"Basically couldn't throw the ball, so I just decided to start kicking it. Found out I was pretty good at it, I guess."
Chrisman is better than "pretty good," the reason Meyer knew he had to have him. Especially after Chrisman received offers from Florida State and BYU, his dream school — he is a Mormon — earlier in March.
"It’s tough right now as BYU has a lot to offer,” Chrisman told Scout.com March 24. “But so does Florida State ... (I'm going to) Florida State this weekend and then hopefully Ohio State next week because I want to try and be done with all of this right after my spring break which is in about two weeks. So I want to get as much detail on these other schools as I can and then make my decision.”
Meyer and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs offered Chrisman a scholarship March 31, doing so without ever seeing him punt in person.
"I was overwhelmed," Chrisman told 11W about the offer. "I was like 'wow' — I was not really expecting that. I was pretty tempting to commit right away, but I didn't. We're planning on deciding at the end of the month."
Chrisman didn't quite make that goal, pledging to the Buckeyes over BYU, Florida State, Kentucky, Indiana and UCLA during a May 5 visit.
I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at The Ohio State University! Looking forward to the journey pic.twitter.com/AOe2IFFjYV
— Drue Chrisman (@Drue_Man) May 5, 2015
Chrisman announced his decision on Twitter, as you can see above. When he spoke on the Eleven Dubcast, the best high school punter in the country said it was pretty simple why he chose Ohio State.
"They have great academics, I'm sure anywhere I would have gone would have had that, but just the comfortability of it," he said. "Being two hours away (from Cincinnati), having your parents and friends be able to come watch the game. Maybe get away for a home-cooked meal every now and then. I just felt at home, and you don't get more comfortable than home."
It is hard to argue that logic, even though the pull of BYU continued to loom large. He stuck with Ohio State, though, due to it being a simple trip up Interstate 71 from Cincinnati.
"Brigham Young University was very hard to turn down not just because of the religious factor but the phenomenal academic and athletic programs there," Chrisman said. "I actually visited the institute near campus in Columbus on one of my visits, which was very helpful in my decision. To be able see that there are very strong LDS members in Columbus to help me feel right at home."
Meyer and Coombs got their first live look at Chrisman during Ohio State's specialists camp in June, standing less than 10 yards away as he took snaps from future teammate longsnapper Liam McCullough at Lincoln Tower Park.
"It was basically the first time they've been able to see me in action instead of just on film," Chrisman told 11W. "Just kind of seeing how the ball pops off my foot and gave me some things to work on. So I think that was really good for them to just kind of confirm what they've heard."
Chrisman told the Eleven Dubcast he is more of a traditional punter as compared to Johnston — who has perfected his Australian rugby-style at Ohio State — but he plans to adapt it upon getting to campus.
"They do love Cameron and his style and it'll be nice to train under him and learn from him while I'm there," Chrisman said.
Chrisman is a 2016 Under Armour All-American, taking part in the all-star game in San Antonio last month. He plans to major in finance (or medicine, as his mother wants) while in Columbus.
Chrisman told our Jeremy Birmingham he will grayshirt in 2016 and thus not count against Ohio State's 85 scholarship limit, especially since Johnston will be a senior this fall. Whatever the Buckeyes have in store for him, however, he'll be ready for when it is his time to loop high arcing kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line at Ohio Stadium — his next home.
"I say it's the biggest play of the game," Chrisman said. "I always say averaged more yards per play than just about any other player. It's a vital part of the game. Other people might have different views, but it's very seldom that if they're starting from their own 5-yard line, the other team is going to be able to drive down and score. That's why Coach Meyer coaches the punt team so much."
Chrisman's time as Ohio State's punter won't be until 2017, but he's a game changer at his position. He nailed a 41-yard game-winning field goal against rival Colerain High School in week 3 of his senior season and helped La Salle win the Division II state championship.