London Merritt Says He Committed to Ohio State Because of Larry Johnson and That the Buckeyes Have Been at the Top of His List Since November

By Garrick Hodge on April 2, 2024 at 8:35 am
London Merritt

When London Merritt visited Ohio State for its game against Michigan State in November, he left campus wanting to commit to the Buckeyes.

The four-star defensive end showed restraint and didn’t end up pulling the trigger after that trip, but since then, OSU has always been at the top of his mind. 

“I visited and we went through the regimen of what it’s like during a game and talked to coaches, stuff like that,” Merritt told Eleven Warriors. “That’s when I knew I wanted to go to Ohio State. I knew they were different and they were the school for me. But I didn’t want to announce it quite yet. I wanted to still look at my options.” 

More visits to other schools came and went. Coaches flooded Merritt at his high school during the active recruiting period in January. Nothing moved Merritt off his stance that Columbus was the best place for him. 

He no longer felt like he needed to wait, and decided to surprise OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson and Ryan Day at the beginning of his unofficial visit on Friday. Merritt told Johnson and Day he was in as the trio were eating lunch together, causing a small uproar inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. 

“Coach Johnson almost flipped the table over,” Merritt said. “Coach Day was also very excited. It made me feel good and made me realize that (coach Johnson) really wanted me to play there. That was fun.” 

The longtime OSU defensive line coach was the driving force behind Merritt’s early commitment, as the duo formed a close bond during the recruiting process.

“It was definitely because of coach Johnson,” Merritt said regarding why he felt comfortable pulling the trigger early. “He just wants the best for me in general, it’s like he doesn’t even really care where I go. What made him stand out was when I first visited OSU, he and I had a one-on-one meeting and he pulled up my film and told me good things about it and things I could work on. That’s something another coach hasn’t done. So that’s what stood out to me from the get-go. He’s a really genuine dude and he cares for his players.” 

Merritt was the first of what eventually became four commitments in one weekend, as Tarvos Alford, De’zie Jones and DeShawn Stewart quickly followed. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound product took to social media to welcome his soon-to-be new teammates as the announcements followed. Merritt says he plans to be heavily involved in peer recruiting the 2025 class moving forward, and will also provide his assistance to bringing in players from the 2026 class as well. Off the top of his head, Merritt said he hopes to reach out to five-star 2025 offensive tackle David Sanders Jr., five-star 2026 linebacker Tyler Atkinson and 2026 defensive lineman Deuce Geralds.

“I’m going to start recruiting people in my area and some of the top players I know at defensive end and in general,” Merritt said. “I’m friends with a lot of top athletes so I’ll definitely start reaching out to people.” 

Following his commitment on Friday, Merritt attended Ohio State’s student appreciation day practice on Saturday for his first visit to OSU as a commit. He said he enjoyed watching the defensive line scrimmage the offensive line throughout the day and came away impressed with what he saw from the Buckeyes.

“It was high intensity and it was fast,” Merritt said of the practice. “There wasn’t too much standing around. They’re always doing something and getting a lot done at practice. It was fun to watch.” 

Merritt will return to Ohio State on June 14 for his official visit. The standout defensive end is weighing whether or not he’ll still take his scheduled official visit to North Carolina to play out the recruiting process. 

“I’m still debating whether I want to go or not,” Merritt said. “I’m still debating whether I’ll take other official visits or not.” 

Merritt plans to be an early enrollee at OSU and begin his collegiate career in January. In the meantime, he plans on using his senior season to develop the best he can as a player so he can hit the ground running in college.

“(Coach Johnson) wants me to keep my speed and likes that I already have a well-developed toolbox of moves and am already at a college level right now,” Merritt said. “What he’s going to do for me is tweak little things that will help me a lot and help me get to the next level. They’ve told me they’ll have me playing both Jack and on the edge just rushing.”

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