Life is funny. What seems a sure thing one day doesn't really make it so, and things can turn on a dime. Auburn's post championship collapse left a recruiting class hanging in the wind and ripe for the picking. And that's precisely what happened with Trey Johnson, former Auburn commit and current inbound Buckeye.
40 time: At Ohio State, we don't measure linebacker times in seconds and tenths of seconds, we measure them on Violence Potential Scale. Johnson's VPS time has been measured at Spielman point Carpenter.
High School: Central Gwinnett, Lawrenceville, GA
A couple of weeks back when we profiled Gareon Conley, we called his early recruitment and commitment to Michigan an 'open and shut' case. If Conley was open and shut to Michigan, then Trey Johnson plead guilty, waived his Miranda rights, and went directly to sentencing. In recruiting, there's no such thing as a 'lock', but Johnson's was about as close as you could get. He committed to Auburn the summer before his junior year in 2011, and was considered a coup back then. As his profile grew, his commitment to the Tigers stayed strong. He took a visit here and there, but there was nothing to make you believe that come National Signing Day 2013, Trey Johnson would be anything but a Tiger.
Then Auburn imploded, going from National Champion to also-ran. Recruiting is built as much on relationships as it is anything else, and Johnson had built a solid relationship with Auburn coach Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Ted Roof. When Roof left Auburn for UCF (and later Penn State), Johnson stayed firm to Auburn, but as their 2012 season started to unravel and rumors about Chizik's job status swirled, Johnson began to re-think his commitment, and he wanted to take his allotted official visits:
They are going through a situation with a possible coaching change, I would still look around even if it was not going on but looking at their season, a coaching change maybe coming.
And when Johnson came to Columbus, things seemed to align for the Buckeyes. OSU beat Michigan, and his visit exceeded everything he had expected. The day after he left Columbus, Johnson officially de-committed from Auburn and opened his recruiting backup, with Ohio State the heavy favorites.
Although Florida and Tennessee were also finalists for Johnson and OSU had to sweat out an official visit to Tennessee at the end of January, on January 4th he announced he would be donning the Scarlet and Gray, giving Ohio State the second ranked inside linebacker in the country per 247Sports Composite rankings, and the #11 recruit from the state of Georgia.
Linebacker has been a position of need at Ohio State the last couple of years, and with Ryan Shazier the only returning starter, Trey Johnson's pedigree will get him a foot in the door come fall camp. That guarantees him nothing, of course, because it looks like right now Curtis Grant will be the starter on the inside and Joshua Perry on the outside opposite Shazier, but nothing is 100% guaranteed outside of the Buckeyes' star LB. Add in the news that sophomore LB David Perkins is likely transferring and you get the feeling that incoming freshmen linebackers better be ready to play.
When you watch film on Johnson, you come away with a couple impressions: he has a nose for where the ball is, and attacks it violently. He lined up mostly as a 'Mike', and he does a very good job of not getting lost in traffic, finding the ballcarrier, and ending the play. On the outside, he moves side to side very well, preventing a ballcarrier from turning the corner, and when he blitzes, there's not a lot of fooling around. It's a straight line to the quarterback to either sack him or force him into a bad throw.
When you watch him tackle, you watch a kid that is as fundamentally sound in the art of tackling as I have seen in awhile. His shoulders are almost always square to the carrier, head up, lead with the shoulder and wrap with the arms. When he goes in to make the play, people don't get away from him.
But the most impressive thing when watching his highlight film was his speed. His closing speed from the outside was borderline ridiculous, and is yet another Meyer speedburner on defense. When playing the inside, his speed, when combined with his instincts, meant that ballcarriers never got to the second level, and any big gains were stopped before they were started.
If there's a criticism I have with his game it's that sometimes he seems slow to recognize a play develop, and that could hurt him at the next level. He was able to make up for that with his pure athleticism most of the time, but it's something he'll need to work on when he arrives on campus if he wants to crack the starting lineup.
Highlight Jam Session:
One Of These Things Is Blatantly False:
- Trey committed to Auburn initially because of his relationship with then DC Ted Roof
- Roof went to the same high school and played the same position as Trey
- Johnson announced to Ohio State during the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game
- Gene Chizik was fired while Johnson was on his official visit to OSU
- Cam Newton's Auburn recruitment was one of the most by the book, on the up and up courtships in the history of college athletics.