There have been some complaints about offensive line recruiting in recent years, albeit not many, but enough to be noticeable in certain Buckeye circles. Questions about the level of talent coming to Columbus. Questions about taking three-star projects and more questions about high profile misses on players like Jackson Carman.
Those questions can probably go away now. After landing two 247Sports top-100 nationally ranked lineman in 2017 (Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis), two in 2018 (Matthew Jones, Nichlas Petit-Frere) and holding commitments from two so far in 2019 (Harry Miller, Doug Nester), the Buckeyes are in a great spot for the future up front. In case that wasn’t enough, Urban Meyer and co. added a commitment from Paris Johnson Jr., who will probably go down as the best lineman in the 2020 class. That’s pretty good.
It’s hard to overstate just how crucial it is to get Paris committed this early on. He’s a phenomenal player, and his impact, both on the field and in the class will be immense. Ohio State is in contention for the top class in 2020, and it seems like they have a legitimate shot, with some of the top players in the class showing serious interest.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves with prognosticating the class, let’s take a look at what the commit at hand brings to Columbus on and off the field.
On the field
Before we get too deep into the film, the first and main thing that needs to be said about Paris is that this kid is as good of an athlete as you’ll see on the offensive line in high school football. He has fantastic size at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, but the most impressive part of his frame is that his weight comes almost entirely from muscle. He’s in phenomenal shape, and that’s a huge part of what makes him so good.
When someone is that big, has quick feet, and can move as fast as Johnson can, there’s almost no way to get past them. His long arms and lateral speed help him excel as a pass blocker, as he can negate speed rushers with relative ease. His quickness is just as valuable in the rushing game, because he’s able to get down the field and pick up second and third level blocks consistently.
With all that being said, there are some things that need work, as always, because no recruit is perfect. Paris, while having a great first step, is a bit slow out of the stance. He doesn’t seem super comfortable in pass protection off of a three-point stance, which is pretty common in young linemen. Luckily, he’ll almost always be standing up in a two-point stance at Ohio State, because the Buckeyes very rarely have their tackles down low.
On top of that, Johnson is a bit handsy, which will get him in trouble with holding at the next level. However, both of these issues are mostly just me nit-picking, and all of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because Paris is still just 16 years old. It’s extremely impressive that he was as good as he was as a sophomore, and he’s only going to get better as he gets older and continues growing into his body.
In the class
There’s a palpable energy and level of excitement around Ohio State’s 2020 class—and for good reason. As I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of top prospects that seem like heavy Buckeye leans, including the top player in the class, defensive end Bryan Bresee. There seems to be a sense of camaraderie among commits and targets, and some have taken to social media to express their excitement, including Lejond Cavazos, who committed to Ohio State on Wednesday.
Johnson Jr. is the third member of the class, though there are some serious rumblings that four and five could be on the way very soon. He joins Cavazos and fellow offensive tackle Jake Wray. This commitment moves Ohio State to fourth in the country for 2020, just behind Miami (who has eight commitments), Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Johnson Jr. picked Ohio State over 43 other offers, from pretty much every power school worth mentioning in college football. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, USC and pretty much all of the Big Ten.
After a recent country-wide road trip this month for Johnson, to Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, USC, Stanford, UCLA and Cal (one of these is not like the other), he was ready to shut his recruitment down. Despite efforts from all those schools, along with Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State, Ohio State was the overwhelming favorite here, and Paris didn’t see anything to change that.