When Ohio State four-star freshman wideout Brandon Inniss first stepped onto the Woody Hayes Athletic Center field for fall camp on Aug. 3, he had entered just his fourth full month with the program. Although fellow highly-touted first-year receivers Carnell Tate and Noah Rogers arrived at Ohio State in January as early enrollees, Inniss opted to finish out his high school career at Hollywood (Fla.) American Heritage, delaying the dawn of his Buckeyes’ career until June.
Despite the late enrollment, Inniss has shown no signs of falling behind in his short time in the Scarlet and Gray. Instead, he is making a seamless transition to the program, with players and coaches alike clamoring over the skills and intangibles he possesses.
Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, who helped recruit Inniss in 2022, was complimentary of the first-year Buckeye’s ability to quickly grasp the system throughout his first few months as a Buckeye, something he first noticed while conversing with the four-star product both on and off the field.
“Brandon, you know, being a guy that unfortunately couldn’t be here in the summer, you worried about him being behind,” Hartline said. “And I haven’t felt that lag. He’s really caught up to the guys. He’s very inquisitive, asks great questions. Sometimes guys ask questions and you’re like, ‘Gosh, I wish he didn’t ask me that question.’ The question itself scares you. But like, he asks some good questions. And so I’ve been impressed with him, too.”
According to Hartline, Inniss’ already-strong understanding of the collegiate game is a unique trait that he has also observed from the more successful wide receivers he has coached. One name that comes to mind for the first-year coordinator is current New Orleans Saints wideout Chris Olave — the Buckeyes’ all-time leader in touchdown receptions (35) — who was also a June arrival to the program in 2018.
“I have a lot of comparisons to him in my head,” Hartline said. Just throw it out there, when Chris came in in June, it just took him a little more time to just establish himself. Not that he wasn’t capable. And I see a lot of correlation there with Brandon. He’s doing a phenomenal job. And he’s going to help us a lot this year.”
Inniss has also caught the eyes of his teammates within the wide receiver room, such as junior first-team preseason AP All-American Emeka Egbuka. Like Hartline, Egbuka lauded the first-year wideout’s sharp football acumen, along with the intensity and grit he has displayed in practice.
“For Brandon, he came in, you know, the last out of those four (freshman) receivers, and he’s picking up the offense extremely fast,” Egbuka said. He’s a joy to be around, but he’s such a great competitor. He and Carnell (Tate) go back and forth a lot, which is really fun to be a part of and be around. But Brandon is a huge playmaker. He goes up and attacks the ball. He’s strong, he’s confident, and he goes out there and he just balls. He just tries his hardest, he tries his best. and there’s never there’s never a half-hearted rep with him.”
Inniss’ strong showing in his first few months as a Buckeye has earned him an official “welcoming” to the program, as he became the ninth true freshman to shed his black stripe after practice on Aug. 21. This is a well-deserved honor, according to head coach Ryan Day, as it serves as a representation of the strong impact he has already made, and will continue to make, on the team this season.
“Brandon Innis, he got his black stripe off (Aug. 21), and that was exciting to see,” Day said. “Because he had a nice scrimmage (on Aug. 19). He’s a football player. I think we all wish he was here in January, but that’s okay. He’s doing a great job.”