ST. BERNARD, Ohio — The Uber ride from Bond Hill to Roger Bacon High School took just nine minutes. It was enough to forge a unique connection between 17-year-old Roger Bacon sophomore Corey Kiner and his driver, Bob Hamburg, who had graduated from the same school in 1968.
As the two made their way through the traffic to St. Bernard, the significant difference in years didn’t seem to matter. Each spoke about what the school had meant to their lives.
Within that conversation, Hamburg mentioned that the football team had a standout running back.
He didn't know that running back was his passenger.
“I didn’t want to say it, but I had to,” Kiner admitted later. “He was a very nice person. I was like, ‘Should I tell him it’s me?’”
Hamburg liked Kiner's engaging, polite, pleasant demeanor in the car so much he felt compelled to write the advancement staff an email later that afternoon.
Roger Bacon Principal Steven Schad later read the email in front of Kiner.
“…This lad presented a window into present-day Roger Bacon that would impress anyone with even the most critical eye on the students of any high school,” Hamburg wrote. “He spoke glowingly of Roger Bacon, and humbly of his own athletic activity, and shared his thoughts about his own future. This speaks well for the continued success of Roger Bacon High School.”
Kiner has 18 scholarship offers and is rated the nation’s No. 5 running back in the 2021 class by 247 Sports. He's a potential Ohio Mr. Football candidate as a junior this fall.
But those lofty credentials took a back seat for a moment. It's a pattern for Kiner, Schad said.
The principal predicted Kiner would break all of the school’s rushing records, but it would be his character that those around him would remember the most from his time in high school.
“Roger Bacon is bigger than sports,” Kiner said. “High school is bigger than sports. You are going to have sports for a couple more years in your life, but you are going to have friends and education for the rest of your life. This is a great place to get an education and make great friends.”
Those who know Kiner best understand the sophomore wants to leave more than a football legacy in two years.
No chances are taken as to what defines his character — even if it means picking up a dollar he found in the hallway and turning it in to the athletic department at the end of the day.
“He’s a different kid, as cliché as it sounds,” assistant athletic director Brandon Spaeth said. “Very humble. He doesn’t walk around like he owns the place. It’s an amazing thing to see such a young man act the way he does at the stature he’s at for such young age and all the publicity he gets; it’s pretty awesome.”
The 5-foot-9 ½ and 210-pound running back has scholarship offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Missouri, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Penn State and others.
“It’s just been a constant buzz around here for the last couple of weeks as soon as the recruiting season kicked back up,” Roger Bacon coach Mike Blaut said. “I feel like I got my hair on fire some days because it’s constant.”
Although the spotlight has been bright, Kiner is enjoying the process.
“I was told by some people that going to Roger Bacon — a smaller school — that I wouldn’t get this attention," Kiner said. "And now it’s just like, yeah, this is what I’ve been working for. This is what my team and I have been working for. It’s just fun that other people on our team are getting looked at, too, by the colleges that are coming here to check me out. So I just felt like I was helping them, too.”
Kiner holds the single-game school record for the most rushing yards in a game (302). He is tied for the single-season school record for the most rushing yards (1,740).
He is third with 2,966 career rushing yards. He is second with 41 career rushing touchdowns. He is third with 270 career points. He is fourth with 3,861 career all-purpose yards.
You get the idea.
“He has a great blend of speed, power and desire, and if you watch his film you’ll see him beat you all three ways,” ScoutingOhio.com director Mark Porter said. “He might have the ability to be a three-down back, which is rare because he has a good size and strength. He looks like a senior when he is a sophomore.”
Blaut is glad his defense doesn't have to tackle Kiner.
“He’s a running back in that he’s got all the tools," Blaut said. "He’s got a spin move, he’s got a stiff arm, he can out-run guys, he can run guys over."
Despite all the football accolades, Clif Kiner is most proud of how his son has excelled academically, how he treats others around him and how much he loves his family. Corey recently made the honor roll for the eighth consecutive quarter.
“Corey is extremely humble,” Clif said. “He understands his gifts and he puts it in perspective. Being a good citizen and a good classmate is more important than being a good football player.”