Ohio State football: 5 things to know about future Buckeye Darrion Henry

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and defensive line coach Larry Johnson scored a major recruiting victory over the weekend with the verbal commitment of Darrion Henry.

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Here is a look at what to know about the Cincinnati Princeton star and what his commitment means to the Buckeyes:

1. Henry is the No. 2 prospect in the state of Ohio, and OSU had to beat some of the best in the nation to get him. 

He led the GMC with 8.5 sacks last season and is rated the No. 11 defensive tackle prospect in the country.

Before settling on the Buckeyes, he was heavily recruited by some of college football's superpowers, and he gave a long listen to what some of them had to say. Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Louisville and Clemson all received visits according to 247Sports.com.

“The whole goal was to get these kids to see these different places,” Princeton coach Mike Daniels said. “So I mean, literally, he's seen every major school but the ones on the West Coast. He took his time, took a lot of different trips. And so he knew what he was getting himself into when he was choosing a school.”

2. “We like to call him a true hometown guy.” 

That is how Daniels described Henry, and the coach of the Vikings is an expert on that subject.

They both grew up in Lincoln Heights, a village in north Cincinnati that was the first African-American self-governing community north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and played for the same youth team, the Lincoln Heights Tigers.

“You’ve got to truly understand the Lincoln Heights community, what it means to Cincinnati, what it means to Princeton,” said Daniels, a standout quarterback at Princeton before playing at the University of Cincinnati from 2003-07.

“There’s so many great players to come from there,” Daniels said, mentioning Spencer Ware (LSU), Harlon Barnett (Michigan State) and Thayer Munford (currently at Ohio State) as examples, "so it means a lot when you get a get a young man doing the things that he's doing. Then to be able to get themselves to the level of Ohio State, which you know what Ohio State means to the state of Ohio. You put that all together, and on top of that, you got a kid that is phenomenal in terms of how he operates — very respectful. He’s easy to love.”

3. He could play inside or out at Ohio State. 

Johnson, who is known as one of the best recruiters and teachers in the business, should have options with the athletic Henry, who is listed at 6-foot-4.5 and 279 pounds by 247Sports.

“It just depends on how he grows and where he is in terms of ability,” Daniels said. "Weight has something to do with it. And how fluid he is. Larry likes to recruit the kids that can do both, you know? And some of those kids play in and play out. And I think some of that just depends on who's on the field. Who's left that he needs to get on the field? Where does he best fit? I’d be guessing on that, but he’s with a great coach, a great man, a great leader so he’ll be in good shape.”

4. Henry is a childhood friend of another major part of Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class. 

Offensive tackle Pari Johnson Jr., the No. 1-rated prospect in Ohio, committed to Ohio State more than a year ago but went on numerous visits himself after Urban Meyer announced last December he planned to retire and be replaced by Day.

After playing at St. Xavier the last three seasons, Johnson will finish his career at Princeton this fall before enrolling in college in January.

“Paris is the real deal in terms of the type of kid he is,” said Daniels, who is entering his third season as coach at his alma mater. “His mom did a phenomenal job of raising him, just the ability to articulate his thoughts and his ability to be humble — but also he's got he's got that dog to him that’s needed to play that position. He's a big picture thinker. He has been great so far for us.”

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Per media reports, a mid-year graduation was not an option at St. Xavier, so instead Johnson will finish his high school career at his home school district — where Daniels was not the coach when he was coming out of junior high.

“St X did a great job with him,” Daniels said, specifically praising Bombers head coach Steve Specht and strength coach Terrell Williams. “They are good men. I consider both friends. This was about Paris. This wasn't about Princeton. He really wanted to graduate early. Like I said, he's a forward thinker and this was his track. In his mind, he wanted to go compete for a job early and he thought the best way to do that was to graduate early.”

5. Henry is part of a wave of recruits coming to Ohio State from Cincinnati next year. Could he be starting a trend? 

The Queen City has taken a backseat to Cleveland and Columbus over the years when it comes to sending players to Ohio State, but five players from the city have already verbally committed for 2020.

With Day seemingly putting a greater emphasis on in-state recruiting, Daniels thinks Henry, Johnson, La Salle kicker Jake Seibert and Elder teammates Jakob James and Joe Royer could be just the beginning.

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“I won’t talk bad or say anything negative about previous regimes (at Ohio State), but I think there is an importance of Ohio, and there's an importance of Cincinnati in particular,” Daniels said when asked about the perception of a disconnect between OSU and the city. "And if you don't believe me, I mean, just look at the number in this class. They've already put out some offers to the next class, too, so I think those days are gone.

“The best kids from Cincinnati, if worthy, they’ll have a chance to play at Ohio State, and I think that’s good for the state of Ohio, good for Ohio State and good for everybody. A win-win.”

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