[This is the 18th in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Tyreke Johnson came to Ohio State from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. He was a 5-star prospect and the No. 21 player in the 2018 recruiting class. Johnson was ranked the No. 2 safety in the nation and the No. 5 player in the state of Florida. He signed with Ohio State over offers from Clemson, Alabama, Duke, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, and anybody else with a phone, email, or a stamp.
Johnson followed high school teammate Shaun Wade to Ohio State. Wade was a year in front of Johnson and kept him abreast of what life was like as a Buckeye.
When it was time for Johnson to make his decision, he actually asked Wade if it would be okay if he chose the Buckeyes. Obviously, Wade was happy to grant him “permission.”
Johnson enrolled early and what Ohio State’s defensive coaches saw was a guy who at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, certainly looked how they want cornerbacks to look.
Getting on the field as a true freshman at corner, however, is never easy. Johnson was one of three cornerbacks in the 2018 recruiting class, but saw the least amount of action out of the three and redshirted.
Don’t get worried, however. Redshirting is very common at a position as delicate as cornerback.
In fact, redshirting at cornerback has been quite effective in the past and worked out for former Buckeyes Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Marshon Lattimore — all of whom were first-round NFL Draft picks.
So Now What
The Buckeyes return starting cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah, and will likely be looking for a third to fill out the rotation. It isn’t yet known where Shaun Wade will line up this season. He played safety and corner last year while holding down the job as the team’s nickel back. If he isn’t playing cornerback this year, then the third spot behind Arnette and Okudah is completely up for grabs.
And even if Wade is at cornerback, there is still going to be a tremendous competition between all of the other cornerbacks who will want to show that they belong as well.
The good news for Johnson is that even though he redshirted and didn’t play, the guys he will be competing with haven’t played much either.
As if that wasn’t enough of an even footing, you can add in the fact that there are two new coaches in the secondary. They will make some assumptions based on practice tape from last year and beyond, but their decisions moving forward will be based on performances in the here and now.
The top three cornerback spots may be tough to crack this season, but all three of those spots will be draft eligible after the season, so finding a good hold on the No. 4 spot in 2019 wouldn’t be a bad gig.