How the Buckeyes' new-age visual star helps land blue-chip recruits

Ohio State's football coaches hit the road hard every year, convincing elite recruits their college careers will be brightest as Buckeyes. Graphic-design wunderkind Kenton Stufflebeam isn't in those meetings, but he's often responsible for first impressions. His slick work—which shows up in mailers, social media posts and personalized messages—has won him favor within OSU for his ability to help sway the country's best blue chips.

Stufflebeam's designs often blur reality, attracting young players through graphic treatments that provide a glimpse of what their futures as Buckeye stars might look like (shown above). As the team continues to rack up acclaimed recruiting classes, he expounds on his success. 

Knowing the Audience

At just 21, Stufflebeam can relate to teenagers better than most employees at OSU. Incorporating song lyrics or pop-culture references has become one of his favorite ways to deliver a personalized message.

“I'm still kind of ingrained in that youth culture a little bit,” he says. “I follow funny accounts on Instagram and things like that. I think music is really a big one. Everyone loves music.”

A Keen Eye

Though generous when it comes to sharing credit, Stufflebeam says his diligence and attention to detail separate him from “every other person who holds my position.”

“Every project I work on, I want that to be my best project that I've ever done,” he says.

Staying Curious

He has to connect with recruits far beyond Columbus, and learning about new communities is one of his favorite parts of the job. When he noticed Ohio State was increasingly recruiting players of Polynesian descent, Stufflebeam took a trip west. He ended up falling in love with Polynesian tattoos and getting one of his own, which also incorporates Greek and the Block O.

“Every recruiting class is different; every kid is different,” he says. “You kind of roll with the punches and evolve.”

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