COLUMBUS — A little more than a year ago, Ohio State commitment Ben Christman was ranked as the No. 22 overall prospect in the country in the Class of 2021.
The day that the talented offensive lineman committed to the Buckeyes, he dropped 22 spots in the 247Sports.com rankings. A month later, he fell another 11 spots to No. 55. As his junior season at Revere High School came to an end though, Christman began to climb again, inching back up to the No. 50 spot in February.
Fifteen days later — yes, just two weeks in February when no football was being played and no camps occurring — Christman fell again, this time 56 spots — out of the top-100 spots in the composite rankings.
Now, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman checks in at No. 114 after four minor adjustments in the last four months, all of which came in a recruiting dead period to knock his ranking down a little bit further.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that is the college football recruiting world in a nutshell. Christman was offered by the Buckeyes staff just two months into Ryan Day’s tenure — and for good reason. Christman has ideal size and he’s cerebral. He’s got good feet from years of playing basketball, and he’s strong as a bull. He’s built to be a Big Ten offensive lineman and he’s put good film on tape. He can play tackle or guard. And like Buckeyes center Josh Myers at the same point in his career, he’s not yet been taught much about pass-protection, but he clearly has the athleticism and football IQ to quickly pick it up.
There are plenty of reasons why he earned his early national ranking and the Buckeyes offer, and his subsequent commitment ought to have validated that. It didn’t.
Christman knows he can’t focus on that, even if he’d love an answer.
“Never to me,” he said on Birminology when asked if there was an explanation for the string of rankings drops. “I’ve never heard anything, and I don’t really care at this point.”
He may not care about the rankings, but that doesn’t mean Ben Christman isn’t thinking about them. It’s just motivation now. Motivation to make the most out of a unique situation that has seen him play for four different head coaches and offensive coordinators in his high school career.
“The ranking drop just adds more fuel to my fire,” Christman told Lettermen Row this week. “I’ve been working to be the absolute best player I can possibly be every single day, and I’m ready to have an elite senior season by constantly giving everything I have.”
So, national rankings being what they are, let’s make one thing very clear: There’s been no waffling from the Ohio State perspective on Christman and his value.
He’s one of just two offensive line committed to Greg Studrawa in the Class of 2021. The other, 5-star lineman Donovan Jackson, believes the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class wouldn’t be what it is without his future linemate.
“Ben is kind of the glue for this class,” Jackson told Lettermen Row. “He does so much for this class.”
There’s the obvious things, of course, like text-messaging recruits and starting friendships. That’s what every solidly committed prospect does. Christman and his family, including his mother, go the extra mile and have played a major role in the decision of players like Michael Hall to commit to Oho State when he did.
“Karen made me feel very comfortable from one mother to another, because parents only want to know does the school have the child’s best interest at heart,” Lynda Hall told Lettermen Row. “She spoke very highly on the whole Ohio State recruiting process — and this was just the beginning for Michael and me.
“They definitely were a big part of my decision making. Ben is an amazing kid. He really welcomed Michael into the brotherhood and told Michael there was no need to look any further because Ohio State was the whole package. He definitely needs a job in recruiting.”
Christman downplays his role as a recruiter almost as much as he downplays the frustration he feels about recruiting rankings.
“I just do my part, and I just want to do what I can control,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have good relationships with guys, but I just try to be a friend first. Building relationships is key in recruiting, and I guess I do a good job with that.”
Kyle McCord, who committed to Ohio State before Christman did, isn’t downplaying the Richfield product’s role at all.
“He reaches out to literally every recruit we’re going after,” McCord said. “All of the guys we’re trying to get, he’s in contact with. He’s a great recruiter and a key piece of our class.
“And he’s one of the most underrated players in the class.”