Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment late Thursday night from Cincinnati St. Xavier five-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., giving the Buckeyes their second pledge in as many days.
Let's take a closer look at what Johnson – the No. 8 overall prospect in the Class of 2020 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Simply put, the 6-foot-7 and 285-pound Johnson is everything you can ask for in a cornerstone offensive tackle.
“When God invented the left tackle, he did in in the vision of Paris Johnson,” St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht told Cincinnati’s WKRC-TV earlier this spring.
Even with that tremendous size, Johnson still has a lot of room to mature physically before he steps on the field in college. In fact, he’s grown more than five inches and put on more than 120 pounds in the last two years, which is why he quickly transitioned from defensive end to offensive tackle as a freshman.
Wow!! The first picture was taken over 2 years ago. pic.twitter.com/PeO4aNgHAW— Paris Johnson Jr. (@ParisJohnsonJr) February 23, 2018
Throw on the tape, and you’ll see Johnson is a strong, athletic tackle who physically overpowers defenders. He’s aggressive at the point of attack, has great feet and uses his long arms well, yet only is beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. He has a reserved demeanor off the field, but turns on the switch once he straps up the helmet.
Johnson has great genes, too, as his father was an all-conference safety at Miami (Ohio) and was selected in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He is now the assistant director of player of personnel at Pittsburgh.
Johnson is a high-academic kid, which is a big reason why he strongly considered offers from Notre Dame and Stanford. He plans to be a sports analyst and entrepreneur after his on-field career comes to a close.
IN THE CLASS
Johnson becomes the third member of Ohio State’s yet-to-be-named 2020 recruiting class, joining Georgia four-star Jake Wray at the offensive tackle position. His announcement comes just one day after the Buckeyes landed a commitment from IMG Academy four-star cornerback Lejond Cavazos.
Though it’s still early, this class is shaping up to be among the nation’s best — if not one of the best in program history. The staff has positioned itself to land Arizona four-star quarterback Jack Miller III this Sunday, as well, which only backs up those claims.
That said, Johnson’s commitment addresses a major area of concern. The Buckeyes are set to lose at least seven linemen between now and the time Johnson and Wray arrive on campus, which means these next two classes will be heavy on linemen.
The staff holds two commitments this cycle at the offensive tackle position in Mentor four-star Ryan Jacoby and West Virginia four-star Doug Nester, but there’s some who believe they’ll ultimately slide inside. A number of top-rated offensive tackle targets have come off the board in recent weeks, as well — including Michigan State five-star commit Devontae Dobbs and Georgia four-star commit Xavier Truss — while Illinois four-star Trevor Keegan has been trending toward Michigan for quite some time.
Ohio State was once considered the front-runner for West Virginia five-star tackle Darnell Wright, but it’s been difficult to gauge the temperature of his recruitment since he’s a fairly low-key kid. Alabama and Tennessee are the biggest threats to the Buckeyes’ chances, though he did visit campus this past weekend.
Beyond that, the staff’s options in the trenches are dwindling for this cycle, with Dayton Dunbar three-star Jonathan Allen and Washington D.C. three-star Walter Rouse as developmental options.
If the staff doesn’t restock the cupboard this cycle, you can bet the Buckeyes will load up next year. Names to keep in mind include Colorado four-star Reece Atteberry, Kansas four-star Turner Corcoran and Michigan five-star Justin Rogers — though he’s listed by most recruiting sites as a guard.
Last cycle, Ohio State watched as five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman — who also hailed from the greater Cincinnati area (Fairfield) — lollygagged through the recruiting process and ultimately spurned them for Clemson during the Early Signing Period.
It marked the second time in three cycles the program missed out on the state’s top-rated player (Cincinnati Elder four-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer picked Notre Dame in 2016), so it was no surprise to see head coach Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa put so much emphasis on Johnson early in the process.
From the moment the staff offered, it was clear Johnson’s recruitment would be different. The Buckeyes now have the top-rated player in the state locked down a full 18 months before he can sign on the dotted line during the Early Signing Period.
Johnson foreshadowed his commitment with the following tweet just four days ago, which means he will take his rightful place as the leader of Ohio State’s recruiting class. One can only wonder how things would have turned out had Carman done the same thing.
when i commit, im committed. no de-committing or flipping..— Paris Johnson Jr. (@ParisJohnsonJr) June 24, 2018