CINCINNATI — Corey Kiner is returning to home.
The former Louisiana State University running back and 2021 Roger Bacon High School graduate announced Monday afternoon he has committed to play football at the University of Cincinnati.
The news arrived just hours after Kiner announced he entered the NCAA transfer portal with an intention to explore other options within college football. UC was the best fit for Kiner.
"I decided why come closer to home when I can come home," Kiner said. "I think it's a great opportunity. I always appreciated home. But, me leaving home makes me appreciate it more to be able to come back and do the stuff I love - play football and go to school."
Kiner said he received interest from other college football programs including Oregon. But, he said UC is "literally home" for him.
"It was a lot of schools but I had to do it for my city," Kiner said.
Kiner expects to enroll at UC in May. He is finishing exams at LSU this month. Kiner said he appreciated his time at LSU but he felt like UC was the best destination. He has Bearcats' attire at his home in Cincinnati.
"I was always a competitor but coming down to the SEC it taught me how to compete every day which I already did but it just helped me raise my level of competition," Kiner said. "I felt like the competition is already super high at UC so me bringing my high level of competition up there with theirs is just going to cause us to rise even higher. I'm ready."
Roger Bacon football coach Mike Blaut was ecstatic upon hearing the news that Kiner — the 2020 Ohio Mr. Football recipient — is returning home. UC had been one of Kiner's finalists when he verbally committed to LSU in May 2020.
"When he was going through his recruiting process, I'm a Bearcat fan — I've been to hundreds of Bearcat games — and we talked when he was trying to decide where he wanted to go," Blaut said. "I said, 'Don't listen to me but I said being a Bearcat fan, UC is only a couple miles down the road from Bacon. I'd love for you to stay home.' I said, 'But you have to chase your dream which he did.' He wanted to go play at a bigger school like LSU, but I think what Coach Fickell has done at UC has just been fantastic. It's kind of turned the script on that a little bit, so it's great to have him home."
Kiner, LSU's second-leading rusher in 2021, rushed for 324 on 79 carries and two touchdowns in 11 games for the Tigers including one start during the 2021 season.
"I knew Corey would go down there and compete and do well," Blaut said. "Unfortunately, the team didn't do as well as I'm sure he thought they were going to do. He was playing, he was picking up yards and he was scoring touchdowns as a true freshman which not many true freshmen play in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) so it was great to see that."
Kiner said he was very impressed with the Bearcats' College Football Playoff berth in 2021 in which UC had a 13-1 record. UC returns 12 starters and is led by reigning consensus national coach of the year Luke Fickell.
"I thought it was great," Kiner said of UC's College Football Playoff appearance. "I thought that it showed how big the city of Cincinnati can get."
Kiner had one of the most memorable careers in Cincinnati-area high school football history. He rushed for 7,130 yards at Roger Bacon and is No. 12 on the Ohio High School Athletic Association's all-time rushing yards list.
The No. 7 running back prospect in the class of 2021 per 247Sports, Kiner was named the Gatorade Ohio football player of the year in May 2021 and Ohio Mr. Football in December 2020. He received 28 scholarship offers, verbally committing to LSU in May 2020.
Blaut said he can't wait to see Kiner compete at Nippert Stadium for the Bearcats.
"Wherever he goes he's going to play, he's going to succeed and he's going to compete," Blaut said. "He's going to be one of the best players on the field."
UC opens the season at Arkansas Sept. 3.