Bennett Christian’s Blocking Ability, Physicality Could Enable Him to Make Early Impact for Ohio State at Tight End

By Dan Hope on January 17, 2022 at 8:35 am
Bennett Christian

If you’re looking for a sleeper in Ohio State’s class of 2022 who could make an immediate impact as a freshman, Bennett Christian might be the answer.

As the second-lowest-ranked player in the class, Christian hasn’t gotten as much hype as most of the Buckeyes’ other incoming freshmen. He’s one of only two three-star recruits in the class, and as a tight end, he plays a position that doesn’t always get a lot of glory at Ohio State.

Effective tight end play is still an important component of Ohio State’s offense, though, and it’s a position where the Buckeyes are set to have less returning experience than any other position in 2022. With Jeremy Ruckert off to the NFL and Cade Stover likely moving to linebacker, Ohio State will have to replace at least its top two tight ends from 2021. Mitch Rossi could return for an additional year of eligibility, but none of the Buckeyes’ other three returning scholarship tight ends – Gee Scott Jr., Joe Royer and Sam Hart – played more than 55 offensive snaps last season.

That leaves the door wide open for Christian to potentially make a quick move up the depth chart if he performs well in spring practice and preseason camp, and he’s hoping to take advantage of that opportunity.

“It is very exciting. It’s motivating, really,” Christian told Eleven Warriors earlier this month before his arrival at Ohio State. “So just get in there, get bigger, learn the technique and try and push for a spot.”

Christian’s background playing for Allatoona High School could help him push for early playing time at Ohio State. While many top tight end prospects play primarily as receivers in high school, Christian played in a Power I offense at Allatoona in which he frequently lined up as an in-line tight end with his hand in the dirt and blocked far more often than he caught the ball, preparing him for the role he’ll be expected to play for the Buckeyes.

“Looking back on it, it’s helped me more than anything, playing in that offense and learning how to become a really good blocker already, especially at a place like Ohio State where that’s where we do most of the time at the position,” Christian said. “So I’m very blessed to be able to already have that skill set ready.”

Regardless of whether he’s trying to open up a hole as a blocker or attempting to catch a pass or run through a defender downfield, Christian – whose father Bill was a defensive lineman at Tennessee – prides himself on playing with toughness and physicality.

“I think just physicality in general is a big strength of my game,” Christian said. “My dad kind of instilled in me when I was little, just be really physical. And I’ve kind of put that in every area of my game, whether it’s blocking or receiving.”

Another thing that’s helped Christian prepare for Ohio State was playing in one of the most competitive high school football regions in the country. A native of Acworth, Georgia, Christian hails from the same county (Cobb County) that produced former Ohio State stars Justin Fields – Harrison, Fields’ alma mater, is actually Allatoona’s rival – and Trey Sermon.

“Everybody here wants to compete. I don’t know what it is. Everybody has a competitive nature. Everybody wants to compete with each other. And obviously the current players get built out of that,” Christian said. “So (Christian wants to) just kind of carry on the Cobb County to Columbus and just try to continue the huge legacy they built.”

Christian is still recovering from an ankle injury that he suffered during his senior season at Allatoona, but he expects to be healthy in time to practice this spring. And he’s been trying to do whatever he can to prepare for the start of his Ohio State career even though he hasn’t been able to run.

“Really I’ve just been doing whatever I was limited to doing,” Christian said. “So I’ve been doing a lot of upper body, just getting mentally prepared. (Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin) Wilson always told me, ‘Get better at the things that you can.’ So whether it’s just hand-eye coordination, throwing a ball off the wall, or studying game tape. Everything I’ve been able to study, I’ve just been getting the mental part down.”

As a true freshman going through his first offseason as a Buckeye, Christian will have some work to do to get his body right for the rigors of playing high-level college football, but he’s not far off from where he needs to be. 

At 6-foot-6, Christian already weighs 240 pounds. He’s looking to bulk up to above 250 pounds by the start of the season, but Ryan Day believes Christian has a chance to be ready to play early because of how physically developed he already is.

“This is a big, good-looking tight end,” Day said after the Buckeyes signed Christian in December. “Where a lot of guys come in a little undersized, like 215, 220 and you gotta really grow them into the position, he’s already kind of there. He’s gonna have to put on some more weight as he goes. But now it’s just gonna be about learning our offense and learning the techniques with Coach Wilson, and then we’ll get him into this thing. But it’ll be quick. I think he’s gonna assimilate quick.”

Day also described Christian as “very intelligent,” and he believes Ohio State’s newest tight end can be an asset to the Buckeyes’ offense as both a blocker and a receiver.

“He’s well-rounded in a lot of areas,” Day said. “As a person, but as a football player, he’s strong. He can do a really good job at the line of scrimmage, blocking the 7 technique, but he also can run routes and get down the field. He’s got good versatility that way.”

Christian doesn’t expect the jump from high school to Ohio State to be easy, as he’s been told by both coaches and players to expect practices and workouts to be intense. He knows the speed of the game will also be different from what he’s used to in high school, and he thinks getting acclimated to that will be the biggest adjustment he’ll face as a freshman.

But he’s worked himself to prepare himself for those challenges both physically and mentally, and he hopes that will pay off as he looks to contribute for the Buckeyes as soon as possible.

“It’s something you dream about as a little kid, just growing up to play at a school like this, so I’m really excited to get going and get in the weight room with Coach Mick, and I’m looking forward to a good spring practice,” Christian said.

View 56 Comments