Ohio State Wide Receivers Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss Love Each Other, Compete Like Brothers

By Andy Anders on March 28, 2024 at 9:20 am
Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate

Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate’s relationship has been forged in the fires of their renowned 7-on-7 team, South Florida Express, and the talent-rich environment of greater South Florida.

Competition is nothing new to them. Much of their relationship is built on it.

“I feel like all of it is,” Inniss said. “We try to compete daily. We know us pushing each other is going to make us the best in the country. So that’s what we want to do.”

Expected to be two starters – or at least two players who play a major role – in Ohio State’s receiver rotation this season, the back-and-forth between Inniss and Tate in winter workouts and spring practices has already been noted several times by coaches.

Both know they can elevate the game of the other and bring the Buckeyes’ receiver room up with them.

“That’s like my brother,” Tate said. “We came here together, we played together before we got here. Our relationship is definitely love, but it’s like a love-hate. On the outside, you would think we hate each other (with) how much we argue, how much we compete, we just try to make each other better. I know what I can get out of him, he knows what he can get out of me and I know even when he’s doing great, he can be better. And he wants the same to me.”

Inniss brought plenty of love to the table when Tate hit the lowest moment of his life last summer.

His mother, Ashley Griggs, passed away unexpectedly after being the victim of a drive-by shooting in Chicago.

“Anything he needed, he knew he could come to me,” Inniss said. “We were roommates together, so I was with him 24/7. We would come here (to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center), we started lifting together. You could ask anybody around the team, if you see Carnell, you’ll probably see me. If you see me, you’ll probably see Carnell. Anything he needed off the field. I went with him to his mom’s funeral, stuff like that.”

Tate’s mentality floored Inniss during that time. As much as one can, he took the tragedy in stride.

“I feel like it’s hard to lose anybody but it’s definitely the hardest to lose your mom,” Inniss said. “So the way he handled that, he did way better than I would have done. I don’t even know how to explain it. The way he carried himself after the fact is just incredible.”

The same honest, authentic qualities that have them in each other’s faces at practice are what made Inniss a great companion in his time of need, Tate said.

“We built our bond off of being based off honesty and being there for each other. He was there during my lowest my time so I’m always there behind him,” Tate said. “We respect each other enough to know where the line is at, but we also respect each other enough to know when we can push each other.”

On the field, both showed flashes during last season to build hype for their second years.

Tate carved out a role as the team’s top receiver off the bench, catching 18 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. He was the first Buckeye freshman to shed his black stripe in 2023.

“Carnell has had a really good offseason. I think the sky’s the limit for Carnell,” Ryan Day said. “He’s extremely talented. He’s been here now a year ... so this is not new to him. Based on what we saw coming out of last year, where he’s at right now, he’s right on pace with some of those other guys.”

Inniss arrived during the summer and as such didn’t get enough ramp to make a notable impact, making just one catch for the entire season. That one grab gave as much of a glimpse into his potential as one grab can, however, as he scored a 58-yard touchdown on the play.

“This is his first spring, he’s going through it,” Day said. “I think you’re seeing a different player. I think his body has changed completely from where it was last summer. When he’s in the right shape, he’s really talented. He’s got great short-area quickness, he’s got just a competitive fire in him. He was really good in winter workouts, he got called out on the mat and won. Just a fierce competitor.”

Part of Inniss’ competitive mindset is hyping up his fellow receivers when they make a play against Ohio State’s defensive backs in practice, Hartline said.

The Buckeyes’ receivers coach feels as though – in part because of the expectations placed on the constant string of elite wideout rooms under his leadership – that’s not something that’s been done enough in recent years. But with Ohio State returning each of its three starting corners from the No. 1 pass defense in college football a year ago, Inniss has spearheaded some of the “chippiness” as both position rooms go at each other during their training sessions.

“Brandon’s part of that mindset change, that mindset enhancement, I should say,” Hartline said. “The leadership group as a whole in the room, I really want to see more of that day to day.”

Of course, Tate is always right there mixing it up alongside his friend.

“Me and Brandon, we’re chippy all the time. It’s just like, in us,” Tate said. “So it shows, definitely.”

Both will get a chance to showcase their shared competitiveness to Buckeye fans in Ohio State’s spring game on April 13, which kicks off at noon on FOX.

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