Bennett Christian’s blocking ability and physicality could allow him to make an early impact on tight-end Ohio State

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If you’re looking for a sleeper in Ohio State’s Class of 2022 who could make an immediate impact as a freshman, Bennett Christian might be the answer.

As the second-lowest-ranked player in the class, Christian didn’t get as much hype as most of the Buckeyes’ other new freshmen. He’s one of only two three-star recruits in the class, and as a tight end he plays a position that doesn’t always get much glory at Ohio State.

Effective tight play is still an important part of Ohio State’s offense, however, and it’s a position where the Buckeyes should have less return experience than any other position in 2022. With Jeremy Ruckert leaving for the NFL and Cade Stover likely move to linebacker, Ohio State will need to replace at least its top two tight ends starting in 2021. Mitch Rossi could return for an additional year of eligibility, but none of the other three scholarship tight ends of the Buckeyes – Gee Scott Jr., Joe Royer and Sam Hart – played more than 55 offensive snaps last season.

This leaves the door wide open for Christian to potentially move up the depth chart quickly if he performs well in spring training and pre-season camp, and he hopes to take advantage of this opportunity.

“It’s very exciting. It’s really motivating,” said Christian Eleven Warriors earlier this month before arriving at Ohio State. “So come in, get bigger, learn the technique and try to push for a spot.”

Christian’s Allatoona High School experience could help him play sooner at Ohio State. While many top prospects play primarily as receivers in high school, Christian played in a Power I offense at Allatoona in which he frequently lined up as a tight end in line with his hand in the dirt and blocked far more often than he caught. the ball, setting him up for the role he will have to play for the Buckeyes.

“Looking back, it’s helped me more than anything, playing in that offense and learning how to be a really good blocker already, especially in a place like Ohio State where that’s where we do most of the time at position,” Christian mentioned. “So I’m very lucky to be able to have that skill set ready already.”

Whether he’s trying to open a hole as a blocker or trying to catch a pass or drive through a defender in the field, Christian — whose father Bill was a defensive lineman in Tennessee — takes pride in play tenaciously and physically.

“I think the physicality in general is a big strength of my game,” Christian said. “My dad kind of instilled in me when I was little, be really physical. And I kind of put that into all areas of my game, whether it was blocking or receiving.

Another thing that helped Christian prepare for Ohio State was playing in one of the most competitive soccer regions in the country. Hailing from Acworth, Georgia, Christian hails from the same county (Cobb County) that produced former Ohio State stars Justin Fields – Harrison, Fields’ alma mater, is actually the rival of Allatoona – and Trey Sermon.

“Everyone here wants to compete. I do not know what it is. Everyone has a competitive nature. Everyone wants to compete with each other. And obviously the current players are built from that,” Christian said. “So (Christian wants to) kind of continue Cobb County in Columbus and try to continue the huge legacy that they’ve built.”

Christian is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered during his senior season at Allatoona, but he expects to be healthy in time for training this spring. And he tried to do everything he could to prepare for the start of his career at Ohio State, even though he couldn’t race.

“Really, I just did what I was limited to doing,” Christian said. “So I did a lot of upper body work, just to prepare myself mentally. (Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin) Wilson always told me, ‘Get better at the things you can. So, whether it was just hand-eye coordination, throwing a ball off the wall, or studying the game tape. Everything I was able to study, I just mastered the mental part.

As a true freshman going through his first offseason as a Buckeye, Christian will have some work to do to prepare his body for the rigors of high-level college football, but he’s not far from where he needs to be.

At 6-foot-6, Christian already weighs 240 pounds. He’s looking to bulk up to over 250 pounds by the start of the season, but Ryan Day thinks Christian has a chance to be ready to play early due to his physical development already.

“He’s a big, handsome tight end,” Day said after the Buckeyes signed Christian in December. “Where a lot of guys come in a little undersized, like 215, 220 and you have to really grow them into the position, he’s kind of already there. He will have to gain a little more weight over time. But now it’s just going to be about learning our offense and learning the techniques with Coach Wilson and then we’ll get him into this thing. But it will be quick. I think it will assimilate quickly.

Day also described Christian as “very smart,” and he thinks Ohio State’s newest tight end can be an asset to the Buckeyes’ offense as a tackle and receiver.

“He’s well balanced in a lot of areas,” Day said. “As a person, but as a football player, he is strong. He can do a really good job on the line of scrimmage, blocking the 7 technique, but he can also run routes and get downfield. He has good versatility that way.

Christian doesn’t expect the move from high school to Ohio State to be easy, as coaches and players have told him to expect practices and workouts to be intense . He knows the speed of the game will also be different from what he’s used to in high school, and he thinks getting used to it will be the biggest adjustment he’ll face in freshman year.

But he has worked himself to prepare for these challenges both physically and mentally, and he hopes that will pay off as he looks to contribute for the Buckeyes as soon as possible.

“It’s something you dream of as a little kid, growing up to play at a school like this, so I’m really excited to start and get into the weight room with Coach Mick, and I’m looking forward to a good spring training,” said Christian.

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