The Hurry-Up: Five-Star Cornerback Will Johnson Commits to Michigan Over Ohio State and USC, Trio of Cornerback Targets Next on Board

By Zack Carpenter on February 28, 2021 at 3:06 pm
Will Johnson

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Johnson picks UM, Buckeyes looking toward slew of CBs

Michigan is keeping its most highly prized in-state recruit home.

Five-star Grosse Pointe South (Detroit) cornerback Will Johnson has committed to Michigan, he announced on Sunday.

Johnson, the No. 10 overall player and No. 5 cornerback in the 2022 class, took his first-ever visit to Ohio State in mid-December, and after that the Buckeyes soon picked up a ton of momentum for Michigan's top-ranked 2022 prospect. There were strong rumblings that he could make a commitment to Ohio State in late January, but things took a turn once Michigan began to fill out its new defensive staff.

“He’s intrigued to see what kind of staff they put together,” Will's father, Deon Johnson, told Eleven Warriors in January. “Just like any kid, they want to know what the deal is and who’s gonna be there. With the NFL-style coaching, there are apparently gonna be at least a couple guys they’re bringing onto the staff with NFL coaching experience so we’ll see who they bring in.”

Those comments came just two days before Jim Harbaugh announced the hiring of Mike Macdonald as Michigan's new defensive coordinator, and Macdonald made one of his first priorities to reach out to the Johnson family. Then, the Wolverines hired former Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach Maurice Linguist as their co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach.

Deon Johnson is a former Michigan defensive back who played for the Wolverines in the 90s. He played a role in Will's recruitment, and he and his son wanted to give Macdonald, Linguist and the rest of the Michigan staff time to build a relationship with them and answer Will's questions.

Apparently, those questions and concerns have been answered.

“He’s big on making sure that he goes somewhere that’s gonna develop him,” Deon said. “Not just working on some of his strengths but also some of the things he feels he needs to get better at. He really wants someone who’s gonna help him do that. He’s not looking for somebody just to accentuate the positives. He’s looking for somebody who tells him what he needs to work on and what he needs to get good at and someone who’s really gonna help him do that.

“He doesn’t just want someone who tells him he’s a good man-to-man player, we’re gonna make you the best man-to-man player. He wants somebody that says, ‘hey, when we play zone I’m gonna make sure you’re the best zone corner in the league as well, not just the best press man corner.’ You know? He wants someone who’s gonna develop him all around as a defensive back, not just in one phase.”

As for Ohio State, which is also seemingly out of the race for Houston five-star cornerback Denver Harris, it will now turn its attention to other cornerback targets to fill out its class.

The Buckeyes have five-star Jaheim Singletary (who was moved ahead of Johnson in a recent rankings update to No. 9 overall and No. 4 CB) and four-star Jyaire Brown (who also moved up, jumping up 11 spots to No. 112 overall and now sits No. 13 at cornerback) already in the fold, though there have been rumblings that Brown's commitment may not be as sturdy. For now, things seem to be OK there, but it will certainly get interesting once the dead period is lifted and visits open back up (as Brown may elect to visit other schools).

Ohio State is looking to bring in three cornerbacks in this class. That's the number we've been told the Buckeyes are shooting for, and with Johnson off the board and Harris looking to be out of the mix for now, the three cornerback prospects I like the most (my opinion, not necessarily how Kerry Coombs and Co. view them) are Toriano Pride, Ryan Turner and Austin Jordan:

  • Pride: No. 123 overall, No. 14 CB, No. 4 in Missouri out of St. Louis' Lutheran North. Pride is currently Crystal Ball'd to Clemson, but the Buckeyes should be in this battle with Coombs and area recruiter Brian Hartline involved. Pride finally got the rankings bump he deserved last week, jumping up from his previous billing at No. 243 overall and No. 28 CB.
  • Turner: No. 333 overall, No. 33 CB, No. 43 in Florida out of Hollywood's Chaminade-Madonna Prep. Turner, as expected, made a big jump in the rankings as well, earning his fourth star and getting bumped up from No. 562 overall and No. 55 CB.
  • Jordan: No. 197 overall, No. 24 CB, No. 32 out of Texas' Ryan High School. Jordan recently slid 30 spots in the overall rankings and down five spots at corner.

West Bloomfield's (Michigan) Dillon Tatum is also getting recruited by the Buckeyes, but after close friend and teammate Donovan Edwards signed with Michigan and his previous West Bloomfield head coach, Ron Bellamy, was hired as a Wolverines assistant, it's looking like maize and blue will be Tatum's calling.

View 100 Comments