COLUMBUS — After a week of uncertainty and confusion on the recruiting trail, St. Louis cornerback Jakailin Johnson has provided Ohio State some recruiting clarity: He’s committed to the Buckeyes.
Johnson picked the Buckeyes over Clemson, Missouri, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and 25 total offers. And he did so one week after making his first visit to Clemson. The Buckeyes were expected to host Johnson for a pair of visits in March and April. And while the NCAA-imposed recruiting restrictions put a crimp in those plans, the desire to commit to Ohio State didn’t change.
Lettermen Row breaks down the decision from Johnson and what his commitment means to the Buckeyes, the Big Ten and more.
What Jakailin Johnson gives Ohio State on the field
Fast, aggressive and flexible, Johnson is a rangy cornerback whose greatest on-field strength is his ability to turn and run with receivers thanks to above-average hip turn and footwork. A MaxPreps.com second-team junior All-American, Johnson picked off seven passes as a junior and helped lead his DeSmet High School team to an undefeated season and a state championship.
At only 170 pounds, Jakailin Johnson will certainly need to be fully committed to the weight room if he wants to contribute early in his career at Ohio State. His coach, Robert Steeples, is confident that won’t be a problem for his star protege.
“Two things you do all the time in college is lift and eat,” Steeples told Lettermen Row. “He’ll put the weight on pretty easily. But he’s got the right combination of mindset and physical gifts to make up for a couple of pounds.”
Those physical gifts are the primary difference between Johnson and the majority of the country’s high school defensive backs.
“His elite speed, exceptional man cover instincts and aggressiveness when it comes to the physical part of the game will always make him a tough match up at cornerback — and cornerback is my spot, I played it for 20 years,” Steeples, who played in the NFL, said. “He’s a playmaker for us in so many different ways.
“Any ball that’s in the air, whether on offense at wide receiver or defense at corner, he goes up and gets like it is his. His talent and elite speed is evident, but how he works with a purpose everyday at practice and in the weight room, he leads by example for us.”
What pickup means for Ohio State 2021 recruiting class
A long-time top priority in the Class of 2021, adding Jakailin Johnson is a very big win for the Buckeyes as Ryan Day looks to keep building his program for future national championship runs.
The second defensive back committed in this cycle, Johnson joins Cincinnati La Salle safety Jaylen Johnson as a future member of the secondary for the Buckeyes. Recruited primarily by Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, Johnson’s commitment is important to note because he’s the first cornerback to pledge to the program with the expectation of being coached by Kerry Coombs, who first got involved in his recruitment in mid-January. After securing a commitment from Johnson, the No. 4-ranked corner in America, Ohio State will continue searching for two or three more defensive backs in this class and turn the focus to big-time names like uncommitted 5-star prospect Tony Grimes, Clemson commit Jordan Hancock and in-state standout Devonta Smith, who was offered by Ohio State last Thursday.
How Jakailin Johnson impacts recruiting rankings
The Buckeyes are in a battle with College Football Playoff nemesis Clemson in the recruiting rankings. Adding another four-star prospect obviously strengthens the class for Ohio State and keeps them in the top spot in the country right now.
Commitment No. 11 in 2021 for Ohio State, Johnson’s addition stretches the Buckeyes lead over Clemson as the country’s top-ranked class. The Tigers have 10 commitments and the two powerhouse programs are likely to jockey for the No. 1 spot throughout most of this recruiting cycle.
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