Paris Johnson Jr. took a slew of visits in the spring of 2019, which had the Ohio State fanbase frustrated with the top commit. He addressed those visits Tuesday.
The spring of 2019 was a time of great anxiety for Ohio State fans who had counted on welcoming the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle to Columbus in 2020. Paris Johnson Jr., along with new Princeton teammates Darrion Henry and Jaheim Thomas, took several visits to schools like LSU, Georgia, Michigan State, Alabama and Georgia Tech.
While fans weren’t expecting the visits, and his ties to what was known as the Cincinnati trio made his commitment seem less than 100-percent, it was part of the plan since before Urban Meyer’s departure and Ryan Day’s promotion to head coach in early-December.
“I talked to Coach Day and I talked to Coach Meyer, and I explained what I was going to do with these other programs,” Johnson said Tuesday afternoon. “They supported it and said, ‘Paris, go do what you’ve got to do, and we support it because we believe this is where you should be.’ I respected that.”
So Johnson made the visits. Then he posted about them on social media, which he said, was against an established rule in relation to his visits.
That began in Tennessee, where he posted photos of himself on an unofficial visit to Twitter with a caption that read, “Give My All For Tennessee.”
Give My All For Tennessee.. pic.twitter.com/ccJSpGE0GS— Paris Johnson Jr. (@ParisJohnsonJr) March 16, 2019
“I saw a sign above the door that said “Give my all for Tennessee,’ and I had the pictures and I said, ‘Wow, these are really nice pictures, I’ve got to post them.’ But my rule was not to post any pictures, but I forgot that rule when I saw these pictures because these pictures are really clean. And they had those signs everywhere, so I was thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s going to be my caption.’”
The posts didn’t stop at Tennessee. Even with open resistance from current and former Buckeyes like Dwayne Haskins. They came for Georgia, LSU and Alabama, along with rumors of Johnson’s increased interest in a couple of those programs.
Now, though, after an official visit to Ohio State on June 21, Johnson’s commitment seems more locked on the Buckeyes than it has all year. Henry’s commitment to Ohio State only makes that commitment seem more certain.
But that interest in other programs was real, he said Tuesday.
The Cincinnati offensive tackle said that LSU was the school he considered the most outside of Ohio State, and there was a point where he thought he was going to Georgia.
“Yeah, that was real,” Johnson said about believing he was going to Georgia. “But I just sat back and thought like come January and after the All-America Game and everything and I fly to my school, could I see myself flying and staying in that dorm? That’s an everyday thing. I’m sitting back like does this feel like home? Do I feel happy here? Sure, officials are supposed to be great, but on my worst day, could I be there? It just didn’t check that box.”
What maintained Johnson’s interest was not only the way Ohio State handled his visiting situation but also the way the fans are supportive of the program everywhere he goes. He said he’s found a balance between what he values in life, his dream to play in the NFL and what he is searching for in the university. And his official visit to Ohio State on June 21 affirmed that for him.
“My commitment is now to the campus, to the university, to the alumni, to the community,” Johnson said. “Before, it was really Coach Meyer. But now I found other reasons to stay, and I’m more comfortable than I ever was.”