Seated in the library at Columbus Eastmoor Academy, the four-star safety prospect was ready to announce his commitment. After listing seven schools he had highly considered, Tanner asked his sister to pass him the hat of the school he had selected.
"No, that's a mistake," he said. As the audience laughed, Tanner's cousin approached from stage right equipped with an OSU hat. The laughter transitioned into applause, and the Buckeyes had verbal commitment No. 17 for their class of 2011.
Tanner's final five schools included Northwestern, Michigan State, Arizona State and Stanford but he also mentioned Michigan and West Virginia as having been under consideration. The plan was to bring out hats of his top five schools and then pick the OSU one, but he ran into a snag and came up with a new plan hours before the press conference.
"It was a last-minute type of thing," he said. "I was going to do the five hats but it was difficult finding a Northwestern hat, a Stanford hat and an Arizona State hat in Buckeye country. I ended up doing something different. Everybody expected Ohio State so I tried to throw them off a little bit."
Nick Vannett, a tight end from nearby Westerville (Ohio) Central who committed to OSU on June 30, was on hand for the press conference. The two speak daily, Tanner said, and have become friends.
"He already knew I was a Buckeye before," Tanner said. "Hopefully I didn't throw him off with the Michigan hat."
That is exactly what happened.
"My heart jumped for a second," Vannett said. "We talked about it all the time that it was going to be OSU, but once he put that on I thought he was just going to joke around for a second. Then he had it on for a good five seconds and I was like, ‘What's going on here?' I was scared for a second."
As for if it was tough to buy a Michigan hat, Tanner said, "It wasn't too difficult because I knew I wouldn't keep it. That helps out."
Later, his mother joked that she was worried his head would burn up if he had kept the hat on any longer.
Although he grew up a fan of the Buckeyes, they were not the favorite for Tanner from day one. WVU was the first school to offer, doing so when Tanner was a sophomore, and the Buckeyes did not follow suit until this past January. In all, 24 schools issued him scholarship offers.
Early on, the likes of the Wolverines and Spartans had the momentum.
"Ohio State didn't jump in early," Eastmoor head coach James Miranda told BuckeyeSports.com. "I talked to the coaches and they're just a little slow on the kids in Columbus but they still had him on their board.
"I think he grew up always wanting to be a Buckeye, but then they were not in on him early and a lot of schools came in. It gave them the opportunity to get in and meet with Ron. He had the opportunity to see other schools and they showed him a lot of love. Then it became a real recruiting process and then finally Ohio State came in."
Tanner said the Buckeyes were not among his top three schools early on. That began to change once he started doing some research and comparing schools against each other.
"I grew up a Buckeye fan, so it definitely helps out growing up around the Buckeyes and being a Buckeye fan," he said. "That definitely helps the decision but I gave careful consideration to the other schools and at the end of the day I felt right at home.
"I'm at home, literally and hypothetically speaking. I just feel at home on campus and I feel like it's the right place for me. After visiting Ohio State and visiting other schools, Ohio State outweighed all the other schools."
A four-star prospect, Tanner (6-1, 190) is listed the No. 7 safety in the nation and the No. 9 prospect from Ohio by Scout.com.