Ohio State flexed its recruiting muscles on back-to-back days when it landed a commitment from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star wide receiver Carnell Tate and Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage five-star Brandon Inniss, who picked the Buckeyes on Tuesday over finalists Alabama, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Texas A&M and USC.
The 6-foot-0 and 190-pound Inniss is arguably as ready as anyone in the country to make an impact as a freshman in college thanks to his frame, competitiveness, route-running ability and overall athleticism, which allowed him to play varsity football as an eighth-grader.
Inniss’ recruitment took off during his sophomore season, when he caught 30 passes for 723 yards and 10 touchdowns at Miami Gardens (Fla.) TRU Prep Academy. He then transferred to American Heritage, which plays one of the nation’s toughest schedules on an annual basis.
Just last season, the Patriots played against Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna Prep, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, Jacksonville Trinity Christian Academy and Miami Central, all of which have a long history of producing elite college football prospects.
Inniss’ caught 17 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns last fall before he was thrust into emergency quarterback duty when starter Blake Murphy suffered a season-ending injury in the fourth game of the season. He finished the year with 604 yards and seven touchdowns passing and 308 yards and two scores rushing to lead the Patriots to the regional semifinals of the state playoffs.
With Murphy fully healthy, Inniss will move back to wide receiver this fall and should put up stats worthy of his five-star status. After all, that’s exactly what he’s shown on the 7-on-7 circuit this spring with the South Florida Express, where he, Tate, four-star running back commit Mark Fletcher, four-star cornerback pledge Dijon Johnson and four-star safety commit Cedrick Hawkins were teammates.
“Inniss is as safe a bet as there is in college football recruiting,” SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia said. “But just because the South Florida native has the highest floor among wide receiver projections in his class, it doesn’t mean his potential to polish up in certain areas doesn’t exist. He is big, physical, explosive, reliable and competitive at the position, building into a foundation as solid as there is at any position nationally.
“The first thing easy to notice on Inniss is his frame. He’s built more like a tailback or power slot than a conventional wide receiver, though his skill set suggests he can line up anywhere and put pressure on defenses. The build translates to lower-body power, too, especially when challenged at the line of scrimmage or at the top of routes, where Inniss can seemingly easy contend with physical secondary prospects. It’s simply hard to disrupt his timing or get him off of his course relative to the assigned route.
“Polish exists throughout Inniss’ game, from the outset of the route through its completion. He can win leverage rather easily against defenders and he constructs routes with a mature plan, looking to get defenders on their heels and/or turned to his dominance. Where Inniss maybe shines brightest, though, is at the catch point. The build and overall strength enables him to win contested plays and his elite body control and field awareness pair to make him productive even when a defender is nearby.
“While top-end speed isn’t his forte, Inniss is plenty capable to the third level of a defense. Not only can he win over the top because of his route-running prowess, but he can do so with strong acceleration and enough sustained speed to run by defenders at times. Throw in elite ball skills and some of the best and strongest hands in the country, and he’s worth taking a chance on even without ideal separation. Inniss has also showed a willingness to block, work off the ball and find subtle holes in a zone defense thanks to considerable experience at the varsity level and on the 7-on-7 circuit — each of which he has dominated since he was an underclassmen.
“I’m not big in the camp game, but in seeing Inniss as much as any evaluator nationally over the last three years, I can’t help but link his game to that of former Alabama wide receiver John Metchie. Though less heralded than Inniss coming out of the prep ranks, Metchie became the go-to wide receiver during Bryce Young’s Heisman campaign last season due to his consistency as a route-runner, his toughness, speed and competitiveness at the catch point. Metchie caught 155 passes for more than 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns while in college, something the imagination doesn’t stretch with when it comes to expecting similar out of Inniss.”
As for how Inniss fits into the class, Ohio State now holds commitments from three of the nation’s top-rated wideouts in Inniss, Tate and Zephyrhills (Fla.) Wiregrass Ranch four-star Bryson Rodgers, who we have long viewed as a top-100 recruit despite his rankings elsewhere, in the fold.
Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline is still looking to pull one more, though, in Rolesville, N.C., four-star Noah Rogers. He was scheduled to take his official visit this past weekend alongside Inniss but had to reschedule for June 24-26 due to inclement weather than cancelled his flight.
The Buckeyes are battling the home-state Tar Heels and Wolfpack for Rogers’ pledge, but most believe he’ll pledge his services to the Scarlet and Gray during or shortly after his visit. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, it appears the staff would be comfortable moving forward with the three that are already in the fold rather than add a fourth player with lesser talent.
After all, another pair of South Florida Express wide receivers are waiting in the wings in the class of the 2024, with Ohio State already viewed as the favorite to land Chaminade-Madonna five-star Jeremiah Smith and Miami Central five-star Joshisa Trader.
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