After Roger Bacon junior running back Corey Kiner took a virtual tour with Louisiana State University last week, he was convinced Baton Rouge is his future destination.
"I felt like I was down there," Kiner said Monday afternoon. "That's how great the tour was."
Kiner has never visited Louisiana. Yet, he enjoyed the campus scenery, the coaching staff and the school itself that is home to the reigning national champion Tigers - a program he's adored since he was in grade school.
He was only about halfway through the virtual tour May 6 when he turned to his father, Clif Kiner, and told him he wanted to verbally commit. When Corey told his mother, Denean Whitehead, she started to cry.
When Kiner informed LSU running backs coach Kevin Faulk of his intention to commit, the former LSU and NFL running back screamed loudly.
"He just got so happy that they just won a football game or something," Kiner said.
Those range of emotions are all tied into one of the most electrifying high school football players in Ohio.
Kiner, the area's top-rated overall high school football player in the 2021 class by 247 Sports, had a good rapport with Faulk during the recruiting process. He also followed the likes of former LSU standouts Spencer Ware (Princeton High School) and Tyrann Mathieu as a youngster.
"It's very exciting," Kiner said. "My mom always told me that one day I'm going to be able to do big things and see the world and now here's my chance."
Faulk, LSU's all-time rushing leader and three-time Super Bowl Champion, offered the scholarship to Kiner on Dec. 3, 2019. LSU visited Roger Bacon early in the 2019 season.
Kiner spoke with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron on the phone in February and excitedly informed Roger Bacon head coach Mike Blaut of the conversation after he knocked on his coach's car window.
"I kind of saw a little bit of myself in Coach Faulk," Kiner said. "Just the level that he's on I felt like he could help me take my abilities to that level."
The small gathering near the entrance of Bron Bacevich Stadium on this blustery early May afternoon was fully aware of Kiner's prowess on the field behind him and his potential at LSU.
"He's built for it," Roger Bacon coach Mike Blaut said. "There is not a doubt in my mind that he's going to go down there and he's going to at least compete for the job if not take the job. He's one of the most competitive kids I've ever been around."
Kiner rushed for 2,298 yards and 40 touchdowns for the Roger Bacon (10-2) in 2019.
He had five punt returns for 165 yards and a touchdown. He had 10 kickoff returns for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
Monday completed a whirlwind recruiting process for Kiner, who is expected to sign with the Tigers later this year.
Blaut had to upgrade his phone at one point because he received so many text messages, phone calls and emails from college coaches about Kiner. Blaut's phone will be quiet for once after having daily conversations about recruiting with Kiner.
"It's a big weight off my shoulders," Kiner said. "But, it's just another chapter in my life. It's time to work even harder now."
Kiner, who is 5 feet 10 and 210 pounds, had previously announced he would decide July 4 but decided to announce Monday in order to celebrate the birthday of his father, Clif Kiner.
""It's a load off my shoulders," Clif Kiner said. "He's going to school for free so it's a good birthday gift."
LSU was one of 28 scholarship offers for Kiner during the recruiting process.
The 2020 Ohio Mr. Football candidate announced his top 10 finalists in early March.
Kiner is the first Roger Bacon football player to commit to a Southeastern Conference program since Isaac Curtis played for Kentucky in 1992.
Kiner narrowed his college choices to 10 schools in no particular order after he was inundated with attention from a variety of programs from across the country.
"At one point in time he was getting 200 messages a day," Clif Kiner said.
The finalists included University of Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Texas A&M.
Kiner told WCPO in late April he was still "wide open" with the recruiting process and considered his options with virtual tours. But, he didn't wait after connecting with LSU.
"Rare combination of size, power and breakaway speed," ScoutingOhio.com director Mark Porter said. "He shows power and downhill running ability to run between the tackles and grind out tough yards. Also, he can hurt you in the passing game with his elite ability in space. He can make people miss with quickness or power in space which makes him a valuable weapon for college programs."
Kiner is rated the nation's No. 10 running back in the 2021 class by the 247 Sports Composite. He is rated Ohio's No. 7 player overall in the 2021 class.
Kiner was a Division IV first-team all-state selection and the Southwest District Division IV co-offensive player of the year. Kiner is Roger Bacon's all-time career rushing yards leader.
Kiner is in six categories in the Ohio High School Athletic Association state record list including touchdowns in a single game (8), points in a game (50), rushing touchdowns in a season (40), points scored in a season (278), career rushing touchdowns (81) and career total touchdowns (88).