“Dream school” is a term often used in recruiting, and though the words are all too common, it doesn’t make the meaning any less true for various recruits.
Four-star 2023 Florida cornerback Dijon Johnson considers Ohio State to be his dream school, and revealed as much when he first received his offer from the Buckeyes in January. Before he ever became a lockdown cornerback prospect, Johnson started his football career as a running back and idolized Heisman Trophy-winning former Ohio State running back Eddie George.
Slightly less than three months after receiving his dream offer, Johnson committed to Ohio State on Sunday after making a visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ spring game, ensuring he’d get to play for the school he grew up watching.
Johnson’s dream comes true, and OSU gets the lengthy, physical cornerback it was searching for in the 2023 class. Seems like a fair trade.
On the field
As mentioned above, Johnson isn’t afraid to use his physical play and length to his advantage. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound corner excels at swatting and breaking up passes and won’t hesitate to press a wideout at the line of scrimmage, depending on what coverage his defense is utilizing.
Johnson also has good speed, as he’s been clocked with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash as a high schooler, and he’s shown great ability to jump a route with his speed. He’s shown tenacity as a ballhawk with a plethora of pick-sixes.
Johnson may need to learn how to cover receivers more tightly at the collegiate level, because he’s not going to be able to make up separation with his closing speed as easily as he has at the prep level against faster wide receivers catching passes from quarterbacks with stronger arms.
But when the ball finds Johnson, he turns into a playmaker, something OSU surely hopes transitions to the next level.
According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Johnson is ranked as the 265th-best prospect and the 29th-best cornerback in the 2023 class.
In 10 games for Wharton High School (Tampa, Florida) last season, Johnson racked up six interceptions, one fumble recovery, 10 pass deflections and 12 total tackles. Four of those interceptions went for touchdowns.
In the class
Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford received a promotion this offseason when he was named the Buckeyes’ run game coordinator. With that came a $132,000 raise, as Alford will make $750,000 in 2022.
Why is this relevant? Well, with the work Alford has put in already in the 2023 cycle and what he could accomplish when all is said and done, he may be in line for another raise. Alford, who is Ohio State’s primary recruiter in the state of Florida, has helped Ohio State land four commitments from the Sunshine State already in the 2023 class in Johnson, four-star safety Cedrick Hawkins, four-star running back Mark Fletcher and three-star wide receiver Bryson Rodgers, who also committed to the Buckeyes on Sunday.
With Johnson’s commitment, Ohio State already has more Florida commits in the 2023 class than it had in 2022 when Kenyatta Jackson Jr., Ryan Turner and Kye Stokes all signed with the Buckeyes.
Johnson is the ninth commitment for OSU in the 2023 class, giving the Buckeyes seven four-star commits and two three-star commits. With Sunday’s additions of Johnson and Rodgers, OSU has moved from seventh all the way up to the second in the composite team rankings for the 2023 class, putting the Buckeyes behind only Texas Tech.
In addition to Johnson, Ohio State will look to add at least one more cornerback to its 2023 class. The Buckeyes’ top target, AJ Harris, seems like he’s trending away from the Buckeyes, but four-star Georgia standout Kayin Lee has built lots of momentum with OSU in recent weeks. If Lee is not OSU’s second cornerback in the cycle, other options could be Sharif Denson, Christian Gray and Daniel Harris among others.