Ohio State has landed its first big-time cornerback in the 2021 class, and the Kerry Coombs recruiting effect has officially taken place with Coombs landing his first commitment.
Jakailin Johnson, the nation's No. 5-ranked cornerback and No. 59-ranked overall player nationally out of St. Louis' De Smet Jesuit High School, has committed to the Buckeyes.
With his commitment, he brings a four-star rating, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame and a win over Clemson and Notre Dame on the recruiting trail.
Johnson would be the highest-ranked defensive back Ohio State has signed since Tyreke Johnson (No. 21 overall) did so in 2018, and Jakailin Johnson would be the No. 8-ranked all-time cornerback the Buckeyes have signed, in ratings that date back to 2002.
The Johnson File
- Class: 2021
- Size: 6-foot-1/170 lbs
- Pos: CB
- School: De Smet (St. Louis, Mo.)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 4 CB
When the Buckeyes offered Johnson in late May of 2019, it was Johnson's 20th total college offer, and he visited Columbus on the weekend of June 21. From there, his relationship with former Ohio State secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley continued to develop.
That eventually led to an unofficial visit on Oct. 5 for the Michigan State game, and his recruitment to the Buckeyes picked up from there. While at the Shoe, he had good conversations with both Hafley and assistant coach Matt Barnes, and a few weeks later, on Oct. 25, Johnson included the Buckeyes on his list of top-six schools along with Notre Dame, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida and Oregon.
Soon after, there were rumblings in November and December that a commitment to Ohio State was getting closer. But when Hafley took the Boston College job, Johnson's Buckeye recruitment, like many other defensive backs in the 2021 class, was put in limbo as he waited for the Buckeyes to hire a new defensive backs coach.
|NAME||POSITION||OVERALL RANKING||POSITION RANKING||DATE OF COMMITTMENT|
|JACK SAWYER||DE||No. 2||No. 2||FEBRUARY 3, 2019|
|KYLE MCCORD||QB||No. 22||No. 3 (PRO-STYLE)||APRIL 30, 2019|
|JAYDEN BALLARD||WR||No. 71||No. 12||JUNE 21, 2019|
|BEN CHRISTMAN||OT||No. 106||No. 15||JUNE 26, 2019|
|REID CARRICO||LB||No. 73||No. 2 (ILB)||SEPTEMBER 10, 2019|
|MARVIN HARRISON JR.||WR||No. 57||No. 8||OCTOBER 31, 2019|
|SAM HART||TE||No. 387||No. 16||DECEMBER. 30, 2019|
|JAYLEN JOHNSON||S||No. 344||No. 17||JANUARY 7, 2020|
|DONOVAN JACKSON||OG||No. 36||No. 1||JANUARY 8, 2020|
|MIKE HALL||DT||No. 92||No. 8||FEBRUARY 1, 2020|
|JAKAILIN JOHNSON||CB||No. 59||No. 4||MARCH 15, 2020|
Despite the well-sourced rumors of a Coombs return to Columbus, Johnson waited things out, and he picked up even more interest from Notre Dame, a school that signed his high school teammate, five-star receiver Jordan Johnson (no relation), a close friend of Jakailin's.
However, another factor into Johnson's decision to deter from the Irish was when his high school coach with whom he is close, Robert Steeples, was interviewed for Notre Dame's vacant defensive backs coach position but did not get the job. Soon after, Johnsons narrowed his choices to six schools once again, putting Ohio State, Clemson and four others on a list that left out Notre Dame in mid-February.
Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it... BM#adaptandovercome! #wecangetthingsdoneinanycircumstance #Buckeyefootballremainsopenforbusiness! #facetimenotasgoodasfacetofacebutweareworkingit! #notagooddaybutagreatday! #Fight! #BIA! #GoBucks! pic.twitter.com/JYYDgwrgE6— Kerry Coombs (@DB_CoachCoombs) March 15, 2020
Once Coombs was officially announced as the new secondary coach, Johnson became one of Coombs' top targets, and he quickly built a relationship with both Johnson and Steeples quickly, flying to De Smet for one of his first recruiting trips in January.
“I’ll tell you, (Coombs) sold me on him. I know his credentials and what he brings,” Steeples told Eleven Warriors of his first meeting, in January, with Coombs. “These kids are like my sons, and he seems like the type of man who I would trust with them. There’s a little bit of each other between us. We kind of view things the same way as coaches.
“He’s awesome. He’s super knowledgeable at that position. I think the NFL journey probably makes him even better of a coach than he was when he left. If Jakailin were to choose Ohio State, he’d get a great man in Kerry Coombs to help lead him.”
Johnson did visit Clemson for the Tigers' second major Junior Day event of the year in early March, one of four other high-priority Buckeye targets to make the trip, a list that includes cornerback Jordan Hancock, who committed to Clemson a couple days later.
But Johnson chose to eschew an opportunity with Clemson for a commitment to the Buckeyes, and they have a building block to center its defensive backs class around.
They already had Cincinnati La Salle's Jaylen Johnson, now a four-star prospect following a February bump, committed since early January, but he is seen as a hybrid linebacker-safety type (even potentially a slot corner instead of safety) and not a pure defensive back. So Jakailin Johnson's commitment gives the Buckeyes a pure cornerback to build around.
It's a hell of a start for Coombs and Ohio State, as the program needs to land at least two cornerbacks (probably three) and two running backs in the 2021 class.