Buckeye Football Notebook: ‘I’m looking forward to watching him play’

Ohio State football Tyreke Johnson

Five-Star Starting to Shine

In 2018, Tyreke Johnson became the first 5-star safety signed by the Buckeyes since Vonn Bell in 2013. Unlike Bell, who contributed as a true freshman, then started as a sophomore, and was an All-American as a junior, Johnson has yet to find his footing now entering his third season at Ohio State.

Of course, Johnson didn’t come to OSU to play safety, so the comparison to Bell kind of fizzles out after signing day.

Johnson came to Ohio State to play cornerback, where he redshirted as a true freshman. He played in eight games last season, seeing more than 10 snaps on defense just three times all year.

With the Buckeyes losing starting cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette off of last year’s team, the time is now for Johnson to begin meeting expectations.

Ohio State defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kerry Coombs sees Johnson as a viable option outside, especially after seeing how well he was doing in the winter and spring.

“I think he fits more outside than inside. He had a really good start, his winter was really productive,” Coombs said. “He is a very smart player. And I am looking forward to him competing his butt off in the fall. I’m excited about Tyreke. And so I think he’s going to have every opportunity to prove himself out there on the field, and I’m looking forward to watching him play.”

A Veteran’s Presence

When you recruit as well as Ohio State does, there will be players who don’t get to make their respective marks until their third, fourth, or fifth years.

Senior receiver Jaylen Harris, for instance, spent his first three seasons behind Binjimen Victor, which has made playing time difficult to find.

Harris caught just one pass last year, which came after catching just two passes in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons. Despite the five career catches, Harris has stepped up as a leader in a receivers room that lost three seniors off of last year’s team. It’s a relatively young group, but Harris has stepped up as a veteran leader.

“I think the whole group is making progression,” receivers coach Brian Hartline said recently. “I think that Jaylen Harris has made progression from December. As soon as we were done and moving on to the next year in early January, Jaylen Harris, did a phenomenal job. He’s been a leader. He’s on our leadership council. He’s doing an excellent job of taking the group under his wing and I’m really impressed by him.”

Things Are Going Good

The only people who love a great recruiting class more than fans are coaches.

For the fans, recruiting is a season unto itself. It’s another opportunity to compete against the enemy.

For the coaches, this is their livelihood. It is what they have to do well in order to defeat the enemy. The bragging rights mean a little bit more.

At Ohio State, both fans and coaches are happy with where recruiting stands at the moment. The Buckeyes have the No. 1 class in the nation and are trying to make sure it stays that way. With 17 commits already in the class, there is still room for more. And the coaches have plenty to sell.

“I think that we have a great staff. We’ve got a great product, if you will, to showcase at the Ohio State University and our football program,” said running backs coach Tony Alford. “We have an amazing staff with men that are great mentors and teachers. We’ve got players that are second to none as far as their ability to explain what this program is about to prospective student athletes in their group.

“So, it feels good where we’re at. We’re not done. We’ve got a long way to go signing day. We’ll continue to forge ahead and get as many players as we can that can help our football program be successful and continue to be at an elite level.”