Eddrick Houston Knew in His Heart He Was Going to Pick Ohio State in the Final 24 Hours of His Recruitment

By Garrick Hodge on March 2, 2024 at 2:20 pm
Eddrick Houston

When Ryan Day made his way to the podium in the team room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on National Signing Day in December, he was uncertain if two of his commitments were actually going to sign with the Buckeyes.

Both of them were five-star prospects and crown jewels of his 2024 recruiting class, wide receiver Jeremiah Smith and defensive end Eddrick Houston. Smith ultimately chose to spurn Miami and stick with his OSU commitment midway through Day’s press conference, leading to the Buckeyes’ coach almost buckling over when he found out. 

Houston’s recruitment was still up in the air through the eleventh hour, with some recruiting analysts changing their predictions to the Alabama Crimson Tide on the morning of National Signing Day. The anxiety from Larry Johnson and Day was lifted when Houston’s high school coach interrupted Day’s presser with a phone call shortly after Smith’s announcement to deliver some good news. His National Letter of Intent arrived at OSU before the press conference was over.  

“It was crazy because I had to sign (my National Letter of Intent) too and I heard he was in the middle of an interview,” Houston told Eleven Warriors on Saturday at The 1870 Society’s Open House at the Woody. “So, I didn’t want to interrupt. But my high school coach called him up while I was walking to the podium and let him know that I was going to stick with Ohio State.” 

When Houston and Day spoke after his ceremony, a sense of relief fell over the Ohio State coach that the Buckeyes had fended off a late push from Alabama. 

“Yeah, he definitely had relief,” Houston said of his conversation with Day after his signing. “Once he found out, you could kind of see the relief on his face.” 

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Houston had a chaotic final few days before making a final decision, as pre-retirement Nick Saban and Alabama were making a strong push for the Buford, Georgia resident. Ultimately, Houston went with his gut. 

“It was definitely hard,” Houston said of the final 48 hours of his recruitment. “Just thinking about all the stuff that could have went wrong. But at the same time, the last 24 hours, I had to cut off my phone. Because I was receiving so many calls. But when I got to Signing Day, I knew in my heart where I wanted to go. And I stuck with it.” 

With his recruitment now behind him, Houston arrived in Columbus in January and has since focused his efforts on getting stronger, learning OSU’s playbook and getting to know his new teammates.

“It’s been pretty good,” Houston said of his first few months on campus. “I’ve just been grinding with my teammates in the weight room and on the field. They’ve helped us adjust to off the field with like school and stuff like that.” 

Though OSU's spring football practices won’t officially start until next week, the five-star talent admits he’s already had his “welcome to college football” moment.

“I’ve definitely already had it,” Houston said. “With all the mat drills we’ve done and in the weight room with all the heavy stuff we do. It’s very different coming from high school with that being a mellow atmosphere, then coming up here where it’s high intensity. But the players here help us get used to it.” 

Ohio State has long had a reputation for putting players through rigorous mat drills in winter workouts, which are essentially strenuous early-morning workouts featuring plenty of competition between players on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center practice field. Houston said participating in them has been an eye-opener for him.

“They’re crazy,” Houston said. “But at the same time, it builds character in us pushing through adversity. Especially with the loud music and stuff playing when we do them. Just hearing that and still trying to focus on doing the drill right, it’s a lot but the players help us all the way through it.”

“I knew in my heart where I wanted to go. And I stuck with it.”– Eddrick Houston on signing with Ohio State after late push from Alabama

Houston is eager to make a terrific first impression in spring ball when practices officially begin on Tuesday, but isn’t making any bold declarations about what he wants his role to look like in his freshman year. Instead, the Georgia product is focusing on improving his craft daily.

“My main goal is to be coachable,” Houston said of his ambitions for the spring. “I know I don’t know all the plays yet and that I need to learn some stuff and work on some stuff that Larry Johnson and I talked about. So that stuff we talked about, just working on it every practice.” 

Houston has already made a strong impression on his teammates, particularly fellow freshman defensive lineman Eric Mensah. Mensah and Houston have gone out of their way to study film together and try to help each other improve on the field.

“He’s like my brother,” Mensah, a defensive tackle, said of Houston. “He’s really cool. We always go out to places and watch film together. We’re bouncing ideas off each other. Like if I’m doing something wrong, he’ll correct me and if he’s doing something wrong I’ll correct him. Because that’s the type of bond we have. 

“He is a very focused guy when it comes to like the playbook, working out, all of it. It’s really good to have a friend that’s focused as much as you and really knows the game as much as you do.” 

Houston has been billed as a versatile defensive lineman who could play on the edge or inside in the trenches, but he’ll begin his Ohio State career as a defensive end.

“I think my size and quickness might be the main thing to help me at defensive end,” Houston said. “But at the same time, I’m working on a lot of stuff that I didn’t see in high school, but now I see it up here.” 

With the return of veteran defensive ends Jack Sawyer, J.T. Tuimoloau, Kenyatta Jackson Jr., Caden Curry and Mitchell Melton, carving out a lengthy full-time role might be a challenge for Houston in his freshman season in Columbus. But Houston has leaned on those veterans to give him tips for improving as an athlete.

“Right now they’ve told me to trust the process,” Houston said of the advice he’s received from older players. “Because I’ve messed up a lot of stuff because I’ve never done it. So they just say trust the process. Because they all went through it at first too. So now it’s just about listening to coach Johnson and everything he’s telling me on how to get better.” 

Whatever role ends up befitting Houston, the talented defensive end is eager to see the 2024 Buckeyes take the field this fall and has no shortage of expectations for the team.

“We have talent all over this defense,” Houston said. “On the defensive line, linebackers, corners, safeties and then we brought some great talent in like Caleb Downs. So it’s just great to be able to be on the same side as him and work and grind with him.”

Visit Eleven Warriors’ YouTube page to see all of our interviews from The 1870 Society’s Open House at the Woody, including interviews with the following players:

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