The Impact of Lonnie Johnson's Commitment

By Jeremy Birmingham on May 15, 2013 at 4:30p
Lonnie Johnson gave his mom a great Mother's Day present.Tall, fast and versatile.

As reported this past weekend, Ohio State received it's eighth verbal commitment for their 2014 recruiting class on Sunday when Gary (Ind.) senior-to-be Lonnie Johnson ended months of speculation and committed to the Buckeyes. 

Most people knew that Johnson, who had publicly named the Buckeyes his leader repeatedly, would choose Ohio State if he was given the chance, and when the Buckeyes – pleased with his efforts in the classroom – said "go," he did. Now that he's officially a member of the 2014 class, we'll take a closer look at Johnson's game and attempt to decipher how his commitment will impact the rest of this class.

The Lonnie Johnson File

There is zero doubt that Johnson is a special athlete, you don't get scholarship offers from Ohio State - especially at wide receiver in Urban Meyer's offense - unless that is the case. Yes, there were some questions about his academics, which Johnson refutes, but clearly there was enough worries and red flags to keep some other staffs from coming through with scholarship offers.

Johnson held offers from 10 schools, including Nebraska, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri, but usually when a player gets an Ohio State offer, the other "big dogs" come calling soon thereafter, and that did not happen with Johnson for whatever reason. 

Not that it would have mattered, as Johnson selected his "dream school," the school his parents "fell in love with." Ohio State needed to see more from him in the classroom before they'd accept his commitment, and that finally happened. 

What does Johnson bring the Buckeyes on the field? 

Speed. Versatility. Length. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, Johnson is a true blend of size/speed that the Buckeyes currently lack in their wide receiving corps. Devin Smith, the Buckeyes most explosive receiver is only 6-foot-1, and the majority of the other pass catchers on the outside, guys like Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer are not scaring cornerbacks into playing off of them. Johnson can do that. He's also strong enough to win against press coverage if that's the approach taken against him.

Johnson is a football player, and while the competition that he's faced is somewhat "suspect" (a criticism that I despise, regardless of validity, the players can't help where they live), he's shown that he's willing and able to lineup where ever his team needs him the most. Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety – heck with 25 pounds he could be a linebacker – Johnson has played it all and could excel at any of those positions because he's that gifted, athletically. Of course, as with any high school player, there are holes in his game that will need to be worked on, and for Johnson it's consistency catching the football. 

Overall, Johnson is a special athlete who, with the right guidance and a coaching staff that pushes him regularly, could become a difference maker at wide receiver for the Buckeyes.

Numbers Impact

Johnson's road was bumpy, but he landed where he wanted to be.What will Johnson add to Ohio State?

Ohio State's 2014 class is projected to finish with anywhere between 17-23 commitments, depending on who you ask. After signing Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and James Clark last season, this year's group is still likely to finish with two to three more wide receivers.

Georgia's Demarre Kitt, who will make his college choice on June 10th, says that Johnson's commitment won't impact his decision, stating that the competition is good. The more likely reason it won't impact Kitt is because Demarre is headed for a different school, but his point was well-taken.

Mark Andrew, Derek Kief, Curtis Samuel, Saeed Blacknall, Josh Malone, Artavis Scott, Austin Roberts, Noah Brown and more are still on the board and the Ohio State staff will not rest until they find the players that fit and buy in to the system, on and off the field.


Johnson has wasted no time in joining his fellow commitments trying to make personal connections with some of the top players in the country. Johnson immediately reached out to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain teammates Kyle Allen and Mark Andrews.

Whether or not that yields any results is obviously not yet seen, but it's a good sign for Ohio State that he's not only eager to help the class but is also doing it by actively recruiting a player, Andrews, that he would be directly competing against. 

On a somber side note, Johnson lost his grandfather on Monday morning, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.


Comments Show All Comments

Hovenaut's picture

I'm paying a great deal more attention to recruiting than in year's past (thanks to the good people at 11W).

One thing I've noticed is the work the recruits are putting forth in helping with bringing in others, am I right to say this sort of effort is on the upswing? No doubt technology and social media have an impact, but I'm really impressed with the efforts of Webb, Trout, Johnson, et al. I think its a win-win all around.

tdible2132's picture

Jeremy, why do you think Lonnie has such an underwhelming offer sheet while being such a great athlete?  You think it all has to do with grades?  I'm just surprised that no big time schools even showed interest in him.  Doesn't add up that he would have an offer from Ohio State and be able to commit but then have such a massive drop off between us and his next best offer.  Perhaps it's all academics, but you'd since this kid is such a great athlete then other big time schools would at least show more interest.  I remember a report out of Core 6 or a camp that he was tearing it up and looked really really good against top notch competition.  Perhaps others will come calling now that he's a Buckeye, but it doesn't matter now that he's committed to OSU. Thanks for all you do for us here at 11W btw, you're on a roll!

buckeyedude's picture

Since when has a kid's academic prowess ever mattered to Alabama, LSU or any other eSECpn team not named Vanderbilt?



tdible2132's picture

That's what I'm sayin!  I feel like it could be something else?  Maybe he's just that under the radar to other teams before this OSU commitment?

osubuck57's picture

Glad to have Lonnie in this class  regardless of other big time offers.Believe Urb found another diamond in the rough,that other teams did not!! Hope he proves Urban 110% RIGHT!!Just remember no one was talking about Parris Campbell and some of these other kids that Urban and staff find either!!MASTER RECRUITER,doesn't even need to wield the light


Ethan's picture

The recruiting updates as of late have been outstanding. Really breaking down material and covering previously untouched topics. Great work 11W team! 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thanks for the compliment!

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Nice to see we are finally getting some size at the WR position.  Time for us to be able to put some fear in the DBs taht we play.  We really haven't had that since we had Devier Posey a couple of years ago.  Welcome aboard Lonnie! 

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I have a feeling this kid is just cruising under the radar and going to absolutely amazing. He'll Do big things outside the hashes. Be on the receiving end of some scrambles that turn into long bombs and some play action long strikes.
Raise some eyebrows fr year > break out soph campaign > insane dominant jr/sr years.

MN Buckeye's picture

While I am glad to see him in the class, I would still like to know the answers to the questions posed above.  Specifically, why was he so lightly recruited?

Psychranger's picture

It's always great to know you have a young man who really wants to play at the school he loves. That alone can help elevate play, no doubt about it. I have to admit that I watched tons of film on this young man before I even knew there were any concerns re: reasons why he wasn't being recruited heavily by more of the "Big Boys". For what it's worth, I immediately noticed that the competition was pretty sad. Also, does anybody in Indiana go out and watch football? The stands were usually close to empty. I'm a Buckeye Grad living in Ga, and thousands attend games down here requiring stadium expansions. The next thing I noticed was what appeared to be good speed, not great speed. I remember when I was watching that Lonnie has the same sort of long, loping strides like those of James Clark, but you can see the difference in top end speed where James leaves everybody else like they're running with weighted boots. Didn't really see a real extra gear watching Lonnie's film. I couldn't find a documented 40 time on him, but it is a fact that there is a significant number of WR ranked not just by one, but by all of the recruiting services. With all of these recruits, it comes down to realizing that every young man has his pluses and minuses, and in the end no matter who recruits them and who doesn't, that we have faith in Coach Meyer and his staff's ability to offer to those kids they feel like will be a good fit, can develop their skills, have a no quit attitude, and will honor their places in the Buckeye Family. So I say congrats to Lonnie and that we're proud to have him.