Ohio features a bumper crop of defensive linemen in the 2019 recruiting class. Sixteen of them already are recipients of Power 5 offers and to sign with major programs. That list includes a prominent Columbus-area prospect, 4-star St. Francis DeSales defensive tackle Rodas Johnson, the No. 5 prospect in Ohio and No. 12 defensive tackle nationally in 2019, per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Since making the decision to focus on defensive tackle full-time ― Johnson previously split time between defensive tackle and guard ― Johnson has seen his offer list skyrocket. The central Ohio standout has scholarship offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida and several other major programs, including eight in the Big Ten.
“It’s been really stressful – just thinking about [recruiting]. I want to get it over with. I’ve been talking to Oklahoma and Michigan, which are recent offers. I’m still in touch with Notre Dame and Penn State. I’m looking into some really highly regarded academic schools such as Duke and Northwestern,” Johnson said. “Indiana is my smaller school. So it’s going really well.”
Ohio State hasn’t yet offered Johnson, but they’re known to take their time evaluating Ohio prospects. That goes double when it’s a Columbus-area prospect, many of whom grew up in the proverbial shadow of the Horseshoe and have dreamed of playing for Ohio State. The coaches at Ohio State ― including Urban Meyer, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson ― have been in pursuit of Johnson, however. He’s expecting good news in the future.
“I’m talking to Coach Johnson, Coach Meyer and Coach Wilson, and they’re recruiting me pretty hard. It’s down the street from me, so I expect [an offer from Ohio State] to come, but if it doesn’t come, it’s God’s plan, so we’ll see what happens,” Johnson explained. “They’re definitely still in the picture.”
Johnson certainly wouldn’t be the first local kid to receive an offer from Ohio State right before the buzzer. Dating back to the 2014 class, Ohio State has offered and landed commitments from prospects such as Brady Taylor, DaVon Hamilton, Malik Harrison and Alex Williams in December or later. He’s seen that trend and thinks he could be up next.
“I just have to come down, talk to them, visit and get around there. Since I’m in the general area, I think I’m going to receive the offer like how Alex Williams received his,” Johnson said. “I think that’s how I’m going to receive the offer.”
Landing an offer from the Buckeyes would be an exciting opportunity for Johnson, who said he looks up to Larry Johnson.
“Coach Johnson, he’s just a guru to me. He just knows the game, he understands it, and I just love how he coaches and how he accepts his players. I just love him as a person,” Johnson said.
However, until that Ohio State offer comes, Johnson’s recruitment will remain a battle of heavyweights in the Midwest and beyond. Several programs will be looking to get Johnson on campus for official visits, including one of Ohio State’s Big Ten rivals.
“I’m definitely going to take spring official visits. I’m definitely going to Penn State. I don’t know when, but I think me and [5-star defensive end] Zach [Harrison] are going up together, because we live pretty close and we’re pretty tight,” Johnson said.
Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spence also has made a strong impression on Johnson, and the two have developed a close bond over time. Spence is one of Johnson’s strongest relationships in recruiting.
“Coach Spence is just a fiery energy type of guy. He came to watch me play against [Columbus-area high school Bishop] Watterson. That just shows the interest they have in me and that really speaks to me to see him come to my last game. He’s a great guy,” Johnson said. “I love [cornerbacks] Coach [Terry] Smith, he’s a great guy too. I love all of them.”
Finally, Oklahoma appears to be seriously in the mix for Johnson as well. While the Sooners don’t often recruit central Ohio, DeSales linebacker Brian Asamoah signed with Okahoma in the 2018 class. Asamoah has been an influence on his teammate and could give the Sooners an assist in recruiting.
“Brian is a great player and he definitely influenced me. We have somewhat of a close bond. Just seeing him and the things he tells me about Oklahoma and how they can enhance you as a player just really persuaded me to go to Oklahoma,” Johnson said. “Also, me being from the South, it’s easier to accept [playing at Oklahoma.]”
Only time will tell if Ohio State will offer Johnson or which program could land the 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle. Johnson has a tremendous group of schools to choose from at this point in his process and he’s likely not done adding scholarships.