Four-star Center Grove defensive lineman Caden Curry will be a Buckeye.
Was there ever a doubt? The short answer: yes.
“I thought for sure he was going to be pulled in one direction,” his father, Chris Curry, said on Tuesday at Center Grove after Caden’s announcement.
That direction — you might want to hide your eyes, Indiana fans — was to Bloomington, not Columbus, Ohio. Coach Tom Allen and the staff pulled out all the stops on Curry, recruiting him to the end as the entire defensive coaching staff came to his house for an in-home visit. The Hoosiers stood in there with Ohio State and Alabama.
For Curry, the interest in Indiana was more than just lip service. He genuinely liked the Hoosiers’ plan for him and believed in the direction of the program, despite the on-field struggles this season. Two of his former high school teammates, Matt Hohlt and Connor Delp, are on the roster.
The most difficult part of the recruiting process for Curry may have been letting Allen know he would be lining up against him in the Big Ten Conference.
“It wasn’t fun at all,” Curry said of telling Allen his intentions. “Telling them definitely hurt a little bit and it hurt coach Allen. I definitely feel bad. But it had to happen at some point, so it was the next step.”
Ohio State was always the standard, though. Curry’s mother Maria’s parents were natives of Ohio and were Buckeye fans who traveled to the Rose Bowl. But Curry’s interest in Ohio State mostly stemmed from his relationship with coach Ryan Day and defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is considered one of the best defensive line coaches in the county — if not the best.
Ohio State was one of the first power five conference programs to offer the 6-3, 250-pound Curry, who ended up with more than two dozen scholarship offers. He made his official visit to Ohio State for the Penn State game on Oct. 30, a week before taking an official visit to Alabama and six weeks after his official visit to Indiana.
Curry said he “fell in love” with Ohio State after his official visit, but his relationship with the Buckeyes’ coaching staff, especially Johnson, dates back more than two years.
“I’ve known coach Johnson for 30 years, probably,” Center Grove coach Eric Moore said. “… I felt from the get-go that Caden felt really comfortable with them, even though they were out-of-state. He felt comfortable with Indiana as well, but especially Ohio State. Larry Johnson is hard to say ‘no’ to when you are probably the best defensive line coach in the history of college football.”
Curry, rated as the No. 88 overall prospect in the senior class on the 247Sports composite, finished his senior season with 65 tackles, including 24 for a loss, and seven sacks. He helped Center Grove to back-to-back undefeated Class 6A state titles, even pitching in on offense with five touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving). Curry is one of three finalists for IndyStar Mr. Football, the top individual honor for a senior player.
“I love to put my best athletes on the defensive line,” Moore said. “That’s where you put your best dudes, in my book. He’s played as hard as he could every play for four years. He never takes a down off.”
Moore said Curry told him back in July that he wanted to put his recruiting on the backburner so he could focus on winning a state championship. “He put his high school football team in front of everything (in his personal recruitment),” Moore said.
There were times, Curry admitted, that he just wanted to tweet out his commitment “and just be done with it.” But he decided to wait it out until after his senior season. On Tuesday, he announced his decision in front of a packed cafeteria with family, friends, classmates and teammates in attendance.
“I was so proud of him that went it came to the state championship run, he pretty much told the college coaches, ‘This is about my team and we want to go win a state championship,’” Maria Curry said. “We were super proud that he didn’t mix those two together because that was so important to not take anything away from the team. Once that was over, you could tell the gears started turning.”
One of the questions Curry had was about his senior baseball season. He was one of the Trojans’ top hitters as a junior on a team that reached the Class 4A regional against Jasper, the eventual state champion. As the football season ended, Curry had a brief thought that he would like to play baseball in the spring.
But after talking it over with the Ohio State coaches, Curry plans to enroll in college on Jan. 10.
“I got back to the end of this football season and I was like, ‘Man, I’d love to play baseball again,’” he said. “But I talked to coach Johnson and coach Day and the best decision for me was to go early. Everybody has to come in May, anyway, so I’d have leave before the (baseball) playoffs. So there was really no point in staying.”
Curry, just weeks away from leaving for college, will get in a quick vacation to Florida before packing up and heading off to Columbus, Ohio.
“He definitely didn’t make the easy decision,” Maria Curry said. “It was the hard decision that was going to be the best for his future. We all know his goal — he wants to play on Sundays. I feel like Larry Johnson really connected with him and coach Day to give him the opportunity.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
OTHER INDY-AREA PLAYERS WHO SIGNED WEDNESDAY
Shane Bennett, Center Grove (Indiana State)
Sam Buras, Center Grove (Ball State)
Kalen Carroll, Center Grove (Cincinnati)
Chaikou Diallo, Decatur Central (Davidson)
Tyler Dostin, Danville (Kent State)
DeJuan Echoles, Warren Central (Ball State)
Jake Etchison, Noblesville (Taylor)
Jahmad Harmon, Lawrence Central (Kent State)
Tayven Jackson, Center Grove (Tennessee)
Joseph Jefferson II, Pike (Purdue)
Kyle Mattern, Lawrence Central (Notre Dame College-Ohio)
Chrishon McCray, Avon (Kent State)
Dillon Moore, Ben Davis (Western Michigan)
RJ Myles, Brownsburg (Northern Illinois)
Danny Norocea, Avon (Colgate)
Zach Osborne, Carmel (Colgate)
Danny Royster, Lawrence North (Ball State)
Brandon Smith, Decatur Central (Western Michigan)
Isaiah Street, Brownsburg (Western Michigan)
Joe Strickland, Brebeuf Jesuit (Purdue)
Maxwell Sullivan, Whiteland (Ball State)
Joey Tanona, Zionsville (Notre Dame)
Javon Tracy, Decatur Central (Miami of Ohio)
Cael Vanderbush, Plainfield (Iowa)
Maximus Webster, Westfield (Ball State)
Popeye Williams, Westfield (Louisville)
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Football recruiting: 4-star Indiana DL Caden Curry picks Ohio State