We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its 16th installment in 2018. Here, we profile Tyreke Johnson, a defensive back from Jacksonville.
- Size: 6-1/191
- Position: S
- Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
- School: Trinity Christian Academy
- 247 Composite: ★★★★★
- National Ranking: 21
- Position Ranking: 2 (S)
- State Ranking: 5 (FL)
- U.S. Army All-American
- The Opening Finals
It's surprising that Johnson is currently enrolled at Ohio State. He was a Florida State lean for the longest time and his older brother was a long-time Florida State commit and eventual signee in the 2015 recruiting cycle. However, Tyreke Johnson's recruitment changed when his brother left Florida State and as he started to field national attention in his own right. He may not have had a chance to play with his brother but another brother-like figure in his life, Shaun Wade, helped to sell Johnson on leaving Florida for college. He committed to Ohio State on Dec. 5 of last year.
I retell this recruitment below. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report of the No. 2 safety prospect in the country who reported to the program as a cornerback. I close with an assessment that we can expect to see Tyreke Johnson on special teams duties in 2018 and I offer some senior-year highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
Jimbo Fisher's departure for Texas A&M notwithstanding, it's any wonder a recruiting profile on Tyreke Johnson isn't about the start of his career in Tallahassee. Johnson was believed to be a Florida State lean for the longest time.
His older brother, De'Andre, was a Seminoles commit for the 2015 class when the younger Johnson brother's recruitment started in eighth grade. Tyreke made several visits to Tallahassee while still in the eighth grade, roughly corresponding to visits his older brother was making as well.
Florida State, for its part, was interested as well. It's surprising that Johnson didn't pledge to Florida State at one point during his recruitment with how quickly he seemed to be leaning toward the Seminoles.
Several things happened along the way. For one, his brother left the program a few months after he enrolled in 2015. This seemed to cool Johnson on Florida State since his older brother's commitment was one of the bigger selling points to the program.
Further, Johnson was emerging as a top-tier prospect in his own right. He earned offers from Georgia, LSU, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and even Ohio State in 2014 while still nominally in the eighth grade at Trinity Christian. Auburn, Florida, and Stanford all offered after his freshman year.
In short, Tyreke Johnson had ample opportunity to forge his own path and started to explore those options.
Florida State may have lost out on Tyreke Johnson when his older brother left the program and Ohio State may have gained a footing in Johnson's recruitment because of another "brother" figure in Tyreke Johnson's life. It's hard to say if Johnson ultimately signs with Ohio State without Ohio State also recruiting Shaun Wade as part of its 2017 class. Wade had long been committed to Ohio State by time Johnson started to look outside Florida State for college options.
Johnson's father even thinks Wade's long-running commitment to Ohio State and his time in the program helped sell Johnson on coming to Columbus as well.
“They’re already brothers. They have a great relationship from high school, and Shaun’s given him the buck naked truth on what’s going on,” Johnson’s father, Earl, told Eleven Warriors' Andrew Lind. “It’s a great place, and he wouldn’t mind having him there as a brother. I think he gets a good vibe from Shaun about the school as a whole.
Johnson's recruitment in 2016 and 2017 may not have always given off that appearance. He was egalitarian with where he chose to visit, making visits to programs as diverse as Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and even UCLA. Forecasts first favored Georgia as his landing spot when it became apparent he was not going to Florida State.
However, it was the official visit to Ohio State at the end of last October that made the difference in Johnson's decision.
Tyreke Johnson committed to Ohio State on Dec. 5, 2017 as the 16th member of what would become Ohio State's full 2018 recruiting class. His commitment video indicates he chose Ohio State over competing offers from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, and Miami, among many others.
Shaun Wade's position in the program helped sell Johnson on the Buckeyes. Wade had been committed to Ohio State since Jan. 2015 and enrolled early as well. It gave Johnson almost a full year to learn the inside of Ohio State's program from a person he considers a brother figure in his life.
Kerry Coombs also gets a lot of credit for taking the lead on recruiting Tyreke Johnson to Ohio State. Coombs impressed both Johnson's high school coaches and Johnson's family with his passionate pitches for what Ohio State can do for its recruits on and off the field. It was a major selling point to come to Ohio State as well though it was bittersweet for Coombs to leave for the NFL before he could coach Johnson.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 20, 2017
The December commitment ended Tyreke Johnson's recruitment. He signed with Ohio State during the early signing period and enrolled in January.
WHERE HE EXCELS
There's a lot to like on Johnson's tape to suggest he could thrive in the backfield for Ohio State's defense.
Johnson's frame is great for the kind of corner he aspires to be. At 6-1 and 191 pounds, Johnson is a bigger cornerback who loves press coverage with no safety help. He does well to stick to wide receivers in coverage. Further, he is a willing tackler in run support. A familiar knock on corners is that they're not diligent or eager tacklers in the run game but that doesn't apply to Johnson.
All told, Johnson has an idea skill set that translates to an outside corner in how Greg Schiano runs Ohio State's defense.
MUST WORK ON
Johnson is a five-star prospect and the No. 2 safety in his entire recruiting class. As such, there aren't a lot of negatives to report though the "safety" question is worth belaboring. Basically, Johnson is adamant that he's a cornerback and not a safety even if his skill set probably makes him a better safety than cornerback. Toward that end, Johnson needs to maintain his speed as he develops or he might find himself taking reps at safety.
Johnson is already enrolled, which gives him a leg-up on some other freshman DBs competing for early playing time. However, I don't see him as an immediate contributor to the two-deep on defense. I do, on the other hand, think he's ideal for special teams duties and that should be his first path to the field as a Buckeye. Expect to see Johnson play as a true freshman.
Here are senior-year highlights of Tyreke Johnson.