PHOENIX — Kyion Grayes didn’t know who the guy wearing the Ohio State shirt was but he wanted to find out.
The Buckeyes had just begun reaching out to Grayes, the No. 3-ranked prospect in Arizona, and it seemed a natural starting point for a conversation. Grayes didn’t know he was talking to Johnnie Dixon, who had just moved out to Arizona as a result of his first NFL stint with the Arizona Cardinals and has never shied away from talk about anything football related.
“The first thing I asked him was if I could have some of his swag,” Grayes told Lettermen Row jokingly. “He had some Ohio State stuff on so I asked him who he was and told him I’d been hearing a little from their coaches.”
Dixon spent five years in the Ohio State program and has been a primary driver of the incredible culture that the Buckeyes receivers room has become known for in the last handful of years. His unexpected friendship with Grayes, the unexpected result of a young peer training with the same receivers coach he and other NFL hopeful use, has given him the chance to spread the message to the next wave of Zone Six.
“This was right when Ohio State had started talking to me, last May” Grayes said. “So I figured why not ask him. He basically gave me the foundation of their program, that it basically feels like family. We’ve talked about their practices, their games and he’s been another set of eyes for me when it comes to Ohio State football.”
Dixon has had no problem giving that insight to Grayes. He knows the young receiver has the right approach and mentality to succeed in Columbus if the Buckeyes are able to secure a commitment from the silky-smooth 6-foot-1 receiver.
“He is a great kid, and a really hard worker,” Dixon said of Grayes. “That’s my little homie.”
Since that first meeting in May, Grayes has seen his recruitment take some unexpected turns. He committed to Arizona and then head coach Kevin Sumlin in August, but opted to re-open his recruitment when Sumlin was let go and about six weeks after Brian Hartline extended an offer from Ohio State in October. He’s become as big a priority for Ohio State in the 2022 class as Dixon was in the Class of 2014 when he came to the Buckeyes from South Florida. He’s able to see how he’d fit into the program at Ohio State a little bit better because he knows better what kind of people have come through it.
“Brian Hartline always tells me that I am going to develop into a great player and that the culture at the school would fit me perfectly,” Grayes said. “And I can see it.”
Next weekend, Kyion Grayes and his family will make their first visit to Columbus. They’ll spend four days visiting Central Ohio, trying to get their first taste of life on the Buckeyes campus but won’t be able to take an inside look at the program because of the NCAA dead period. Thanks to an unexpected friendship that’s developed with Johnnie Dixon, his eyes have already been opened a little bit more than they had been.