Chris Henry Jr. “Thankful And Blessed” After Wowing Brian Hartline to Earn Ohio State Offer at Age 14

By Griffin Strom on June 7, 2022 at 8:35 am
Chris Henry Jr., Brian Hartline

It was hard to ignore Brian Hartline’s reaction to one young prospect at Ohio State’s second camp of the summer on Monday.

Just minutes after extending a scholarship offer to a player who hasn’t even started high school yet, the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach was already singing his praises in animated fashion over a FaceTime call while traipsing the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The son of late Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chris Henry was sure to receive a few extra sets of eyes in a camp setting, but at just 14 years old, Chris Henry Jr. would have wowed college coaches, media and spectators on merit alone.

After seven offers were extended to up-and-coming recruits during Ohio State’s first camp of the summer last week, only one was handed out on Monday. It was to a player who won’t graduate from high school until 2026. Already 6-foot-3, Henry looked every bit the part of a future big-time playmaker at a high-level program.

It’s been a quick rise to national recruiting exposure for the son of a five-year NFL veteran, but Henry said the offer from Hartline serves as validation for the work he’s put in so far. And the work is far from over for the Cincinnati product.

“I don’t let it get to my head,” Henry said after receiving his offer Monday. “I just stay humble, but I’m very thankful and blessed to receive the offer. … It was a surprise, but I think I earned it because I worked for it. It just makes me want to get better.”

Henry, who will begin his high school career at West Clermont this fall, had no previous interactions with Hartline prior to Monday’s camp. But given the feedback he received from the highly-regarded Buckeye wide receivers coach, it’s no wonder he needed little more than a first impression to garner an offer from one of the top programs in the country.

“I think he liked my ability to track the ball down and my speed, and I’m a very coachable player. … It was my first time ever meeting him today,” Henry said. “He was a great coach, he helped me throughout all the drills and he helped me get better today.”

Henry is just the second player Ohio State has offered in the 2026 class, and the first on offense. Tyler Atkinson, a 6-foot-3 edge rusher out of Loganville, Georgia, became the first player from the rising freshman class to earn an offer from Ohio State in May. It’s become clear the Buckeyes have no qualms about moving quickly on young talent they deem worthy of a scholarship.

But Ohio State isn't the only team that has its sights set on Henry. The 170-pound wideout entered the day with offers from Marshall, Grambling State, Connecticut and West Virginia, where his father played from 2002-04. By the end of the camp, Henry also picked up an offer from Akron to go along with his scarlet and gray offer.

There are sure to be plenty more where those came from for Henry over the next several months and years, even though he doesn’t yet know where else he will camp this summer. Wherever he does land, it’s likely coaching staffs around the country will have plenty of interest in the fast-rising talent.

Like most young wideouts across the country, Henry finds Ohio State’s recent track record at his position alluring. Three former Buckeye wide receivers were drafted in the first round in April (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba is already pegged as the top player at his position in next year’s class.

Hartline even has another player in his stable that bears the name of a former NFL standout, and given Marvin Harrison Jr.’s three-touchdown performance in the Rose Bowl as a true freshman, the pairing seems to be working out quite well for both parties thus far.

“He inspired me because I want to work as hard as he did and make it to the places he’s been and to be better than him."– Chris Henry Jr. on his late father

Henry’s father died on Dec. 17, 2009, as the result of blunt force trauma suffered falling out of a moving vehicle, but left behind a football legacy his son still aspires to live up to more than a decade later. Henry Sr. amassed 1,878 yards and 22 touchdowns in his final two seasons at West Virginia and was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the Bengals in 2005. In 55 games for Cincinnati, the elder Henry caught 119 passes for 1,826 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Henry Jr. said he looks to his father’s career for inspiration but also hopes to surpass his accomplishments by the end of his own run on the gridiron.

“He inspired me because I want to work as hard as he did and make it to the places he’s been and to be better than him. … I think it became a reality (that I could be on a similar trajectory) a few months ago, like the start of my eighth-grade season where I started having more looks,” Henry said. “And just knowing that I’m an elite receiver.”

In 2021, Henry Sr.’s close friend and former West Virginia teammate Adam “Pacman” Jones adopted both Henry Jr. and his brother, DeMarcus. A 12-year NFL veteran with 146 games of experience under his belt, Jones – who Henry Jr. refers to as his uncle – has been another source of inspiration.

“In my life he really just is a father figure/agent,” Henry said. “He helps me get better every day and helps me grow as a person.”

With a four-year high school career still standing between Henry and the college ranks, he still has all the time in the world to grow into his father’s shoes and determine what the next step of his career will entail. For now, he’s just happy to receive recognition from Ohio State – something he said will only motivate him to put in more work.

“It feels great,” Henry said. “It just makes me want to work harder, get better.”

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