Ryan Day Says Brandon Inniss is “The Guy You Want On Your Team” As Five-Star Wide Receiver Prepares for Bigger Role in 2024

By Andy Anders on May 31, 2024 at 11:35 am
Brandon Inniss

The Earth still hasn’t completed a full 365.24-day rotation (look it up) around the sun since Brandon Inniss arrived on campus at Ohio State.

Much of the youngster’s hype has been redirected to a fellow second-year phenom and a freshman sensation at wide receiver, but Buckeye fans quick to forget could soon get a reminder of why Inniss was the lone composite five-star in the team’s 2023 recruiting class.

“This is his first spring, he’s going through it,” Ryan Day said in March. “I think you’re seeing a different player. 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. Football player. Tough. The guy you want on your team, that’s Brandon Inniss.”

“Just a fierce competitor. Football player. Tough. The guy you want on your team, that’s Brandon Inniss.”– Ryan Day

With freshman lumps out of the way, Inniss enters his sophomore season ready to break out in a likely high-leverage role from the slot. He's already emerging as a leader in Ohio State's receiving room.

“I'm definitely a lot more comfortable just because I've been here for almost a year now,” Inniss said in March. “So I feel like the playbook is coming second (nature), it's natural now to me. I'm just playing a lot faster and I feel like I'm not thinking as much when I'm out there. So I feel like as much as I do that, I'll be doing pretty good.”

Inniss’ eight-game freshman campaign featured just one catch, but it was about as eye-catching as one catch can be. He caught a fade route out of the slot from Devin Brown, diced up a defensive back and scored from 58 yards away.

It took Inniss time to acclimate to college football after arriving in the summer last offseason, but his first winter and spring have allowed his work ethic and competitive edge to shine.

“This is my first winter workouts and I've just done everything that I can do to play next year,” Inniss said. “So everything Coach (Mickey Marotti) has said to get my body fat down, just anything I can do to get my speed better and stuff like that, it's been really good.”

Inniss has also been part of a larger culture shift in the room now that its brightest star, Marvin Harrison Jr., is off to the NFL and there are a collection of talented but unproven names in the lineup.

“There’s a lot of expectations and assumptions being made in our room, and rightfully so, they’ve earned it,” Hartline said. “But making plays was normal and we didn’t really celebrate them well. Just in general, we’ve talked about that, and Brandon’s one of those guys that has encouraged that, along with Emeka, along with Bryson (Rodgers), along with Carnell (Tate). ... I say that because Brandon’s part of that mindset change – mindset enhancement, I should say – and the leadership group as a whole in the room, really want to see more of that day-to-day.”

Part of that identity comes from the locations of three players atop the order. Inniss, Tate and freshman Jeremiah Smith – an athlete that seems too good to keep off the field in 2024 as his class' No. 1 overall recruit – all hail from South Florida and were teammates on the renowned 7-on-7 team South Florida Express.

That South Florida swagger coupled with an elite group of Ohio State cornerbacks has made for fierce battles in practice.

“I feel like everybody down there, we compete to the max, there's no other place that competes like South Florida, there's dogs all around South Florida," Inniss said. "Ever since I was 7 years old when I started playing, it was instilled in me to compete and be that dog.”

Everything in Inniss’ game beckons back to the versatile slot receivers of years past for Ohio State.

Since the Buckeyes pivoted to a modern spread scheme under Urban Meyer, slot receivers have gotten involved in the running and screen games with decent frequency. Jalin Marshall is perhaps the best early example of this, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Emeka Egbuka are the modern cases. 

Inniss flexed some of his dynamic athleticism while playing quarterback in high school for powerhouse American Heritage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He practiced running the ball out of Ohio State’s backfield during the team’s Cotton Bowl prep.

“I think I'm very quick, I have a nice quick twitch to me,” Inniss said. “I'm elusive, I'm strong so I can block, if I have to block bigger nickelbacks or linebackers or even safeties at times, I can do that. I can also play down the field as well and my run after catch is pretty good, so I feel like I'm the perfect slot receiver.”

Inniss’ short-area burst is why he’s also a contender to get involved in Ohio State’s return game. He took reps at punt returner during spring practice before an injury sidelined him. Inniss was seen in a walking boot during Ohio State’s spring game but Day confirmed afterward that the injury is not long-term.

“Anything I can do to get on the field,” Inniss said. “I'll definitely return punts, kick returns, anything I need to do to play.”

Despite the elevated role Inniss seems destined to play for the Buckeyes in 2024, there’s no resting on any laurels. Egbuka will likely move around Ohio State’s offense to make room for Inniss’ talent, but Inniss will still be watching the Buckeyes’ senior star while working with the coaching staff to fine-tune his skill set.

“I'm never satisfied, so I just want to keep pushing, I just want to keep being great,” Inniss said. “I'm still learning from Emeka, so anything I can take, any little nuggets I can take from him that he learned in the slot, it'll add great value to my game.”

View 33 Comments