Welcome to Buckeyes Crootin’ 2022 Class-In-Review, with me, Shane Bailey — or as many of you may know me @BuckeyesCrootin on Twitter. In this series I will be discussing and highlighting the strengths of all of the 2022 Ohio State football commitments, along with what to expect when they get to Columbus. If you missed any of my prior articles, I covered RB Dallan Hayden here, WR Kaleb Brown here, Kyion Grayes here and Caleb Burton here, and Kojo Antwi here.
Current 2022 Offensive Commits
Running back: Dallan Hayden
Wide Receiver: Caleb Burton, Kyion Grayes, Kaleb Brown, and Kojo Antwi
Tight End: Bennett Christian
Offensive Line: Tegra Tshabola and George Fitzpatrick
Bennett Christian | Tight End | Allatoona HS (Acworth, Ga.) | 6-foot-6, 235 lbs
The tight end position has been one with many criticisms at Ohio State over the years, even though it’s never really been about the players at the position either. It seems to be a running joke around Buckeye Nation every year that this will finally be the year that OSU throws to the TE more; and most years, that seems to just be a pipe dream.
However, that does seem to be trending in the other direction ever since Jeremey Ruckert got to Ohio State. Still not nearly as much as most fans want, but the use of the tight end in the quick passing and screen games has definitely seen a small, but noticeable uptick under Ryan Day.
Personnel is big in Day’s play-calling decisions and with players like Ruckert you can afford to work the TE into the passing game more. Now with the addition of Bennett Christian to the fold, I believe we will see that trend continue over the next few seasons.
Christian is a tight end for Allatoona High School in Acworth, Ga., and is one of the founding members of the Buckeyes’ class of 2022, being the fifth prospect to commit to the Buckeyes this cycle. He had 12 other scholarship offers and is ranked as 348th prospect nationally, the 14th best tight end, and the No. 20 recruit in the state of Georgia.
His father is Bill Christian, a former Tennessee Volunteer football player, making this a good win over the Vols in the never ending recruiting game. Christian is the second player in the Buckeyes’ recruiting class that chose Ohio State over his father’s alma mater, as running back Dallan Hayden’s dad Aaron also played his college ball on Rocky Top.
Christian’s 6-foot-6 frame is the ideal size for the tight end position and yet he still has plenty of room to add more muscle and bulk once he gets into a Micky Marotti’s training program.
The TE is a fantastic in-line blocker with the potential to deliver some big plays in the passing game as well. One of the things that anyone planning on playing tight end at Ohio State needs to know is how to block well, and that will be no issue for Christian. He has great run-blocking discipline and appears to take pride in finishing out his blocks to the point where the defender is on the ground rendered completely useless. Catching passes and touchdowns is the flashy part of the position, but blocking is an absolutely key component to being successful as a Buckeye and getting (and staying) on the field.
It is well known that in order to earn receptions in the Buckeye offense, you have to show your willingness and ability to block for your teammates. Bennett will have no issues following that formula as it appears that he truly enjoys manhandling his opponent to the ground and opening up huge lanes in the run game. He finishes his blocks with force and aggression, with the regular pancake thrown in for good measure.
A small, yet important, thing that I noticed in his film is that he goes until the whistle blows; he doesn't give up halfway through blocks or when the ball carrier is past him. When he has his hands on the defender, he drives his legs until the ball carrier is on his behind.
The future Buckeye has heavy hands, meaning that once he gets his hands on the defender, they are very tough to break free of. He drives his feet well and seems to have a good understanding of utilizing leverage in the run blocking game. He shows capability to execute more complicated blocks as well, showing his ability to pull when needed and still hit his blocks.
Now as far as the passing game goes, he is also quite talented as a pass catcher. He has great hands and seemingly plucks the ball out of the air when targeted, showing great hand strength as well. Over the course of his varsity career at Allatoona, he has caught 34 passes for 507 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 15 yards per catch. At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, he is a big chore to take down for defenders, often times not going down on first contact and taking multiple people drag him to the ground; those yards after the catch are always a premium for any offense. He runs good routes for a big guy and shows good change of direction for someone of his size.
Donning the No. 87 as well, one may instinctively draw comparisons to Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce for the run after the catch ability and physicality with defenders. Now obviously I don’t mean he will turn out to be either of those future hall of famers, but it was hard not to see a few things that Christian has in common with those stars, especially in terms of his physical playing style, which is evident all over his tape.
As it is with his blocking, when running after the catch Christian always has his feet moving. Whether it’s pancaking defenders in the run blocking game, or fighting for every extra yard in the passing game, his feet never stop moving. I can see him eventually becoming a great red zone threat for the Buckeyes and a huge asset in paving the way to thousand yard seasons for Hayden and other OSU runners.
Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson is thrilled to have another great prospect to join his room, especially one with Bennett Christian’s skill set. Wilson will also be glad to add the guys I will be talking about in next week’s article, offensive linemen Tegra Tshabola and George Fitzpatrick.