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No. 1 lineman in 2020 class discusses ‘great’ Ohio State visit
Cincinnati St. Xavier tackle Paris Johnson Jr. has placed himself firmly on the national radar. Just 16, Johnson is regarded as the No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2020 class by 247Sports. The sophomore holds more than 30 offers, including programs such as Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Georgia and Michigan.
The 6-foot-7, 275-pound tackle was offered by the Buckeyes on Dec. 8 and has been a frequent presence on campus since landing the scholarship offer. Johnson and his family have visited four times since December. Ohio State has placed a premium on impressing Johnson during these visits, and he’s impressed with what he’s seen.
That did not change during Johnson’s most recent visit to campus on March 30.
“We had a great visit at Ohio State. We observed their practice and their competitiveness. I had some meetings with coaches and those also went well. We discussed the opportunities I’d have at the university,” Johnson told Land of 10. “Those are football and academic opportunities. We also talked about life after football programs that benefit student-athletes, such as Real Life Wednesdays.”
Johnson is well beyond his years in his understanding of the recruiting process. His father, Paris Johnson Sr., was recently hired as a member of Pitt’s football recruiting staff and has a background in college coaching.
Although he’s grown close with the Ohio State staff, Johnson plays everything close to the vest and doesn’t want to give away too much about where the Buckeyes may stand.
“We are building a relationship with Ohio State. I can’t compare it to other programs right now, because I haven’t had the opportunity to visit all of my options,” Johnson said.
Johnson also has taken recent visits to Indiana (Feb. 3), Notre Dame (March 3), Michigan State (March 16), Michigan (March 17) and Penn State (April 2). He will spend time at Pitt (April 3) and Ohio State (April 14) in the coming days. He’s working toward gaining insight on many of the programs recruiting him, which has been a fun process for Johnson.
“My recruiting process has been great,” Johnson said. “We are grateful for the experiences we’ve had and for the programs who have offered me. I have heard that by next year, it does get crazier.”
If you missed any notes on the truly ridiculous visitor list that Ohio State had on campus over the weekend, check out the full list from Dotting the Eyes. We’ll continue to have more updates on blue-chip visitors from the weekend, including an update later in this notebook.
Indiana wide receiver plans unofficial visit
Ohio State’s wide receiver recruiting board includes blue-chip prospects from across the country, but the Buckeyes aren’t ignoring prospects close to home. Zach Smith and the other Buckeyes assistants always keep a focus on the Midwest and that remains true in the 2019 class.
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne wide receiver Craig Young, a 3-star prospect and the No. 93 wide receiver in the 247Sports composite rankings, is one of Ohio State’s offered targets in the Midwest. The 6-3, 200-pound prospect was offered by the Buckeyes on Jan. 29 and will make his first unofficial visit to campus since receiving the offer on Tuesday.
Young’s offer list is mostly full of Big Ten programs: Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa and Wisconsin. He also holds offers from Iowa State and several lower-level programs. He previously visited Ohio State in July 2017.
It’s still too early to declare a definitive pecking order at wide receiver for the Buckeyes in the 2019 class, but with as many as five spots available at the position in this cycle, they’ll be looking for plenty of players. Ohio State previously landed a Fort Wayne receiver in the 2016 class in Austin Mack. He will be a junior this fall and has 26 career receptions.
Volunteer State could yield results for Buckeyes
Another Ohio State 2019 recruiting target at wide receiver is Thompson’s Station (Tenn.) Independence standout TJ Sheffield. Sheffield is a 5-10, 170-pound receiver ranked as No. 38 at his position. He holds more than a dozen Power 5 scholarship offers.
Ohio State, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Purdue are a few early highlights on Sheffield’s offer list. He’s a former Tennessee commit, but the new Vols coaching staff under Jeremy Pruitt has barely been in touch with Sheffield.
The Buckeyes offered Sheffield in February, well after his de-commitment in October from Tennessee, and he recently made his first unofficial visit to campus since receiving the Ohio State offer. Sheffield watched a practice March 31 in Columbus.
“I got to see the campus and meet all the coaches at Ohio State. We also watched the practice with the coaches. I thought it was high-intensity and fast-paced,” Sheffield explained to Land of 10. “[Wide receivers graduate assistant Keenan Bailey] explained the way they train their receivers at practice so that they can perform in games.”
Ohio State has offered several other Tennessee prospects in the 2019 class. Buckeyes running backs coach Tony Alford has been active in the state, helping land 4-star prospects Max Wray and Master Teague in 2018. In 2019, Ohio State has offered 10 recruits from the state, including Sheffield.
It may be too early to know whether Ohio State’s increased presence in Tennessee is a trend, but the Buckeyes will keep striking away at the state. Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman teammates Trey Knox and Adonis Otey, who both hold offers, will visit Ohio State beginning April 5. Other prospects from the state, such as linebacker Kane Patterson, receiver Lance Wilhoite and defensive end Ani Izuchukwu, also are in the mix for the Buckeyes.
Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the Eyes here.