Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.
- Size: 6-0/198
- Position: WR
- School: American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
- 247 Composite: ★★★★★
- Composite Rank: #5 WR
- Overall Rank: #35
With spring practice less than two weeks away, there’s no better time than now to start the 2023 Better Know a Buckeye series, one that takes an in-depth look at each of Ohio State's 20 commitments in the 2023 recruiting class.
It's only right that we start with Brandon Inniss, a five-star wide receiver from Florida who is the Buckeyes’ top-ranked player – and only five-star commit – in the cycle.
Ohio State can thank Lincoln Riley's move to Southern California and Brian Hartline's wizardry for Inniss becoming a Buckeye, and it could start to reap the rewards of his flip right away.
How He Became A Buckeye
Inniss committed to Oklahoma in the summer of 2021 but that all changed once Riley left Norman for USC. That's when the Buckeyes really started to strap in to secure a commitment from one of the best wide receivers in the 2023 cycle.
On Feb. 23, 2021, Ohio State became the 24th school to offer Inniss, the same day that Alabama did as well. He was the first wide receiver in the 2023 class to receive an offer from Brian Hartline and the Buckeyes.
“I feel really blessed right now, to see the wide receivers they brought in and to see I’m the first one he offered in 2023 is an amazing feeling,” Inniss told Eleven Warriors at the time. “I like how much they produce wide receivers to the NFL and that’s my end goal. I talked to some guys that had conversations with Coach Hartline, and they all had everything good to say about him.”
After he camped in Columbus in June 2021, it was clear Inniss would be a major priority target for the Buckeyes.
Brandon Inniss with the deep-ball catch: pic.twitter.com/SKXdZgVDVF— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) June 22, 2021
Inniss committed to Oklahoma that August, but decommitted from the Sooners three months later. Ohio State quickly surged back to the forefront of his recruitment along with USC, Alabama and Miami.
Ohio State landed Inniss’ commitment on June 22, 2022, less than a week after he made his official visit to Columbus. His commitment came in a three-day stretch in which Ohio State landed three commitments – Carnell Tate on June 21, Inniss on June 22 and Noah Rogers on June 23 – from three top-10 receivers in the same class.
Hartline, who is arguably the best assistant coach in the country, played a key role in Inniss committing to the Buckeyes.
“Coach Hartline is like no other coach,” Inniss told Eleven Warriors at the All-American Bowl in January 2022. “He breaks down the game to you in a way that no other coach will. It’s amazing to see what their receivers do in and out every single year.”
High School Years
Inniss started playing varsity football as an eighth grader and emerged as one of the nation’s top recruits from there, making it look easy throughout much of his time at American Heritage School.
As a junior, Inniss played quarterback, running back and wide receiver and totaled 1,253 yards of total offense. The five-star receiver was named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year after his senior year, in which he caught 73 passes for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Against the top talent in the 2023 class, Inniss continued to shine at the All-American Bowl, showing off his skillset and the reason he is one of the top receivers in his class.
In case you needed a reminder: Brandon Inniss is going to be a problem at Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/hTu4XtqtC9— Michael Yero (@MichaelYero) January 5, 2023
Dante Moore to Brandon Inniss for the 9-yard touchdown. pic.twitter.com/82QP1ySmZR— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) January 7, 2023
As a freshman joining a loaded wide receiver room led by Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, Inniss isn’t likely to be an immediate starter. But that doesn’t mean he won’t start to make his mark in year one.
Harrison, Egbuka, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are among the current and recent Buckeye star receivers who started to emerge as playmakers as freshmen before stepping into starring roles as sophomores, and Inniss could follow a similar blueprint in his first two years at Ohio State.
Inniss will have to beat out a lot of talented competition to earn an immediate spot in the rotation. Xavier Johnson and Jayden Ballard are back from last year’s two-deep; Kojo Antwi, Kaleb Brown, Caleb Burton and Kyion Grayes will all be looking to earn roles as second-year Buckeyes; and Tate, Rogers and Bryson Rodgers join Inniss in a talented group of freshman wideouts.
But between his acceleration, route-running, ability to create separation and just knowing how to beat opposing defensive backs with technique, Inniss is arguably the most polished player in Ohio State’s 2023 class and should only get better once Hartline starts coaching him this summer.
Route running on 10(right side of the screen) pic.twitter.com/En1e2KZzMH— Brandon Inniss (@brandon5star2) October 15, 2022
He will likely start out as a slot receiver, which will allow the Buckeyes to find mismatches for Inniss and give him an opportunity to show off his combination of acceleration and physicality. That said, he’s more than capable of playing on the outside, too.
“Brandon, from early on, just had a presence about him. He had leadership early on,” Day said of Inniss at Ohio State’s press conference during the Early Signing Period. “His play this season, bringing (American Heritage) all the way to the state championship again, after the year before (when he had to play) quarterback, you could just tell he was just a competitor.
“And now you see what he did this year. He can do so many things. He can play inside. He can play outside. He's a dynamic player and has leadership ability. During the process, he kind of would communicate to the guys in the class in these text chains that these guys would use to talk to each other. He was a big catalyst for this class.”
Inniss drew comparisons to Wilson and Olave from then-quality control coach Keenan Bailey during his recruitment and has the potential to follow in their footsteps as a future first-round NFL draft pick.
“Coach Kee named a few guys like Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave’s deep play abilities,” Inniss said. “I bring everything to the table. I’m a do-it-all kind of guy. Put me in the slot, at wideout, in the backfield and motion me out, I can do it all. And my film speaks for itself.”
Living up to what those two former Buckeyes did in Columbus are high expectations to put on a player before he’s even started his college career, but Inniss is a confident player who isn’t shying away from expectations.
“A lot of people think it’s a lot of pressure, but I’m built for pressure,” Inniss said in a video published by NBC Sports before this year’s All-American Bowl. “I love it, actually.”
Ohio State will need new stars to emerge at wide receiver after this season if Harrison and Egbuka forgo their senior years and enter the 2024 NFL draft, and Inniss is a top candidate to fill that void and be one of the Buckeyes’ top receivers in 2024 and 2025.
Player Comparison: Jaxon Smith Njigba
While Bailey compared Inniss to Olave and Wilson, he may actually be more comparable to Smith-Njigba, who is the same height and one pound heavier than Inniss, which makes the comparison seem even better. Like Ohio State’s single-season receiving record holder, Inniss’ ability to create separation with crafty route running is what makes him special, and it doesn’t seem out of the question that could eventually make a similar impact as JSN did during his sophomore season.