The consensus four-star national ranking somewhat betrays the inarguable fact: Darrion Henry just now is beginning to paw at his potential on the football field.
After all, Ohio Stateâ€™s recently-signed defensive lineman is just a few years removed from not even playing the sport in eighth and ninth grades. Those days are remembered for Henryâ€™s excellence elsewhere: Among the state of Ohioâ€™s top-ranked rising basketball prospects and a member of LeBron Jamesâ€™ AAU program.
â€œA little bit about Darrion, he thought that he wanted to play basketball,â€ said Cincinnati Princeton coach Mike Daniels, Henryâ€™s cousin and a former Cincinnati Bearcats great. â€œBut he reverted back to what was special for him, which was football.
â€œGoing into his eighth-grade year, Darrion was one of the top-rated kids in the state in terms of basketball. He played for the LeBron James AAU team. He didnâ€™t even play football his freshman year. That was his goal, basketball.â€
Henry already is on campus in Columbus, rooming with former prep teammate Paris Johnson and part of Ryan Dayâ€™s first full signing class.
Henry is under no illusions about his path. Heâ€™s candid in the knowledge that improvement is mandated in myriad areas if Henry in the fall is going to join the list of freshman contributors in a program thatâ€™s recognized for its willingness to play rookies.
â€œHopefully to be one of those guys that play, but Iâ€™ve got a long way to go,â€ Henry said of his incoming goals. â€œ[Iâ€™m] nowhere close. I havenâ€™t touched the surface of what I can be at.â€
Daniels likewise knows the best is ahead for Henry, whoâ€™s been working to transform his body even before arriving at Ohio state.
â€œHeâ€™s a very gifted athlete,â€ Daniels told Lettermen Row. â€œHeâ€™s just a big man. And so heâ€™s got a great combination of the power and speed.
â€œFor him, he had the injury going into his senior year with his shoulder and he couldnâ€™t train as much as he wanted to. But when he gets into that program and gets under Mick [Marotti, the Ohio State strength coach], and gets with [defensive line coach] Larry Johnson, heâ€™s going to have a really good future.â€
Henry is building that future alongside Paris Johnson, his roommate, and fellow newcomer Jacolbe Cowan, another defensive lineman and former Henry AAU acquaintance.
â€œItâ€™s been pretty cool,â€ said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Henry. â€œWeâ€™re roommates too, so we get to talk about everything weâ€™re going through. Iâ€™m not going through this by myself.
â€œIâ€™ve known Jacolbe for a little bit, since like sixth grade, so weâ€™ve been cool since then.â€
Daniels, quick to remember Henryâ€™s 60-yard pick-six from the defensive tackle position as a sophomore, is eager to see Henryâ€™s career unfold at Ohio State because of his community backing him.
â€œI feel really good about what heâ€™s going to do up there and how things are going to go,â€ Daniels said. â€œHe grew up in the community, went through our school system, his mom went to Princeton and I went to high school with her, heâ€™s kind of a true hometown hero in that respect because of him growing up and playing with the local youth teams.
â€œWhen he chose Ohio State, everybody was so excited.â€
Still, the best is yet to come for Darrion Henry.