Welcome to an ongoing series here at Land-Grant Holy Land — Freshman Focus. Spring practice has now come to an end with the conclusion of the spring football game, and this year’s crop of Buckeyes have been hard at work preparing for the 2021 campaign. That being the case, now is a great time to introduce you to Ohio State’s incredibly talented freshman class. Each edition of Freshman Focus will highlight one of the newest Buckeyes, and will hopefully provide a glimpse at what they will bring to the team in the coming years.
Today’s freshman: Ben Christman.
Keeping the trenches stacked with talent is a surefire way to make sure your program keeps chugging on all cylinders, and that is exactly what Ohio State did with the addition of Ben Christman to the offensive line. Hailing from about two hours north of campus in Richfield, Ohio, Christman comes to Columbus as the No. 7 offensive guard in the 2021 class and the nation’s No. 124 prospect overall. As the No. 6 in-state prospect in the cycle, his commitment gives the Buckeyes five of the top six Ohio natives — something Ryan Day is surely pleased with as locking down your own state’s borders is critical to success.
Christman isn’t just a prospect that was highly regarded in Ohio, as he racked up over 21 offers for his services during the recruiting process. Some of the biggest programs around the country were vying for the four-star prospect, including the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and many more. Christman made visits to Ohio State, Penn State and Kentucky as he weighed his options, but there was never much doubt that he was going to stay home, officially committing to the Buckeyes in June of 2019 before signing his letter of intent this past December.
The 6-foot-6, 312-pound interior lineman picked up no shortage of accolades during his high school playing career at Revere. A four-year starter for the Minutemen, Christman was named to the Cleveland.com all-decade team. A first-team all-Suburban League selection, he earned the 2020 Suburban League American Conference co-Offensive Player of the Year. In addition to landing a spot on the Cleveland.com 2020 All-Area squad and the 2020 MaxPreps All-State team, Christman was named a Touchdown Club All-Star and was a first-team all-district selection.
While showing out on the football field, Christman was a three-sport athlete at Revere, also playing basketball and participating in tracks and field events. You want your offensive lineman to be big guys who are also great athletes, and as you can see from his highlight tape — even from just his sophomore season — Christman certainly fits that description.
As we’ve talked about in previous editions of Freshman Focus, Ryan Day and his staff did a tremendous job of in-state recruiting in this cycle. Landing five of the top six players in Ohio is no easy task, especially when programs like Michigan, Notre Dame and even a surging Indiana are breathing down your neck. Christman is Ohio’s No. 1 offensive line recruit, and the second-highest rated offensive lineman in the class for Ohio State behind only Donovan Jackson — both of whom are guards. Working with an inside-out approach of landing your state’s top recruits and then branching out nationally has been a tried and true strategy for the Buckeyes for quite some time, and it likely won’t be changing anytime soon.
As a four-star prospect, Christman isn’t quite yet earning the first round NFL Draft grades this early in his career like the aforementioned Jackson, but he is still very highly regarded by talent evaluators. Drawing a comparison to the Arizona Cardinals’ Will Holden, here is what 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu had to say of Christman’s abilities:
“Tall with good arm length. Already quite filled out and has clearly been in the weight room. Good athlete who also plays basketball. Very strong. Has no issue getting defenders to the ground and driving them backwards. Plays with a mean streak. Has good balance and keeps his feet when drive blocking. Not as refined in pass blocking technique as he is in the run game at the moment. Must improve lateral quickness and overall explosiveness. Could play right tackle or guard in college. Will be a mauler who has a chance to play on Sundays.”
Christman is joining a very deep and talented offensive line group at Columbus, and likely won’t get a chance to see the field much if at all in year one. Ohio State is returning its two starting offensive tackles in Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere, and will be starting some combination of Paris Johnson Jr., Harry Miller, Matthew Jones and Luke Wypler on the interior. In addition to that group, the team also has a handful of potentially intriguing blockers including Enokk Vimahi, Josh Fryar and of course fan-favorite Dawand Jones. The Buckeyes are losing both Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers to the NFL Draft, but are perfectly built to not skip a beat in 2021.
While Christman won't be a star in year one in Columbus, there are very few offensive linemen who come to Ohio State and make any sort of significant impact right away, and so his time to shine will come. Christman is a big and versatile blocker, and so he is capable of playing both guard and tackle — something that will certainly aid in expediting his time waiting to get onto the field. He is not one of these guys the Buckeyes take on as a project offensive lineman from Ohio in the late stages of the recruiting cycle. He is a legitimate high four-star prospect, and there is every chance he will be starting in Ohio Stadium sometime in the next few years.