NCF On The Trail: Trey Johnson

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Could there be a pipeline that leads from Lawrenceville, Ga., to Columbus?

That remains to be seen, but Ohio State made an impression at its Friday Night Lights camp with athlete Adonis Thomas (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett).

Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) has been committed to Clemson for over a year, since signing day in February 2012. But that has not stopped other programs from recruiting the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the ESPN 150, even though he said last month he was done with recruiting.

Mike Bobo and Cam Cameron, offensive coordinators from Georgia and LSU, respectively, visited Gainesville to watch Watson, ESPN's 13th-rated prospect, during spring practice. Alabama offered Watson after Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier evaluated him earlier this month. With his status as an elite quarterback talent, none of that was earth-shattering news.

This past weekend, though, things got a little interesting. With Auburn hosting its annual recruiting event known as "Big Cat Weekend," Twitter reports emerged that Watson was in Auburn. Watson tweeted Friday evening that he was not at Auburn.

He later denied to various reporters his presence on the Plains, as did his head coach, Bruce Miller. But on Tuesday evening, Miller had a different story for ESPN.

“We have been out of school since May 18, so I gave our kids the time off before we start back at workouts this morning,” Miller said. “I did not have any contact with him last week. I get a call Friday night from Coach [Chad] Morris at Clemson Friday evening asking if I knew anything about Deshaun visiting Auburn [that day]. I told him I had no idea about it and I started investigating. He calls me back later saying his source was pretty good on him being at Auburn. Of course, Deshaun had denied it so I denied it too.”

Watson was denying it, but in fact he had made a trip to the SEC campus Thursday afternoon with an assistant coach, which Miller said was done without his knowledge. According to Miller, Watson mentioned to one of his assistant coaches that Auburn had been in contact and he had interest in visiting. The assistant was attending a graduation in Prattville, Ala., about an hour away from Auburn, over the weekend, so he dropped off Watson. Miller said Watson acknowledged the visit to him at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“Deshaun told me he visited Auburn and that he did not know what he was thinking,” Miller said. “Deshaun felt sorry about it and said he got talked into it at a weak moment because he had never seen it. He said he realized after he got there that he should not have made the visit. He said, 'I then started trying to figure out how I could cover it up.'”

ESPN 150 commits denying visiting other schools is nothing new. Last January Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) visited Tennessee just a few weeks after committing to Ohio State at the Under Armour All-America Game. Johnson denied it during the weekend of the visit, but it was later revealed he was in Knoxville checking out the Volunteers. In the end, he signed with the Buckeyes, though. 2013 ESPN 150 defensive end Chris Jones denied multiple visits to Ole Miss last January while being committed to Mississippi State, later admitting he made the visits but was afraid to say anything because of death threats.

While those “secret visits” were a few weeks before signing day, Watson’s trip is unique because there are more than seven months before he can enroll early at the college of his choice.

Like Johnson and Jones, it appears Watson is solid in his commitment at the moment. He was able to talk to the Tigers’ coaching staff on Tuesday in hopes of getting back on the same page.

“Deshaun says he did not see anything [at Auburn] that makes me question anything and he is not changing his commitment,” Miller said. “He talked to Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris today and everything is fine now. They told him No. 1 is that Deshaun’s word is his word and that he will need to earn back a little bit of their trust. When you mess up one time you have to circle back and do right again, which Deshaun will have no problem with.”

Miller said ha will take a more hands-on approach to keeping up with his prize quarterback, who set the state record for career passing yards last fall while leading the Red Elephants to their first state title.

“From now on our recruiting coach, Wayne Jones, and I will be handling his recruitment,” Miller said. “I think he and all of us have learned our lesson in social media, and I do not think Deshaun Watson will take any more visits.”
When reached via text message, Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas/Poteet) didn’t have much to say about his offer from Ohio State.

Then again, the exclamation point said plenty.

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Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) has been to Ohio State on several occasions. Next time, the ESPN Watch List junior has an agenda.

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Ohio State: Luke Fickell top recruiter 

February, 7, 2013
Recruits and colleges can be fickle friends. At Ohio State, Fickell friends are the best friends to have.

If there is anyone in Ohio who understands what scarlet-and-gray fever is about, it is Luke Fickell.

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Luke Fickell
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIRELuke Fickell is a crucial part of Ohio State's recruiting prowess.
He played nose guard for Ohio State in the 1990s. He was the interim coach for the Buckeyes in 2011 and has been with the team in some facet since 2002.

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OSU pledge Johnson visits Tennessee 

January, 27, 2013
The rumors were out there that Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) was visiting another school, and they were refuted earlier in the weekend. But on Sunday, they were confirmed. Johnson was in Knoxville, Tenn., over the weekend. Should Buckeyes fans be worried about the pledge of the top-rated linebacker in their class?

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Weekly Commitment Update 

January, 11, 2013
Ebenezer Ogundeko DE Brooklyn, N.Y./Thomas Jefferson
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Position Rank: #10 DE

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When Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland) announced he was planning to take official visits to Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee shortly after his team’s state runner-up finish, BuckeyeNation said the trip to Ohio would be important.

Developments since then prove just how vital this weekend will be for the Buckeyes as they try to round out an already stellar defensive recruiting class by adding the ESPN 150 safety.

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Scouts: Meyer bolsters LB corps 

January, 6, 2013

The Buckeyes struck big on Friday with the commitment of ESPN 150 prospect Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett), who fills a huge need at the linebacker position for Ohio State in this 2013 class. This is key out-of-state verbal as the Under Armour All-American was being courted by several SEC schools and has SEC caliber speed and athleticism that Meyer may need to call upon early.

In terms of ability, the Buckeyes are getting a versatile linebacker who can play inside or out in Columbus with his well-rounded skill-set and high football intelligence and instincts. Despite being somewhat light, Johnson is able stack and shed inside and he also has the length, range and speed to turn and run and make plays outside the hashes. He is athletic, strong at the point and a solid tackler but also has coveted intangibles at the position like smarts and toughness that should allow him to challenge for early playing time in what will be a young linebacker corps.

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Johnson's brute style a boon to OSU 

January, 4, 2013
It took Ohio State a little more than a month to flip the switch.

Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) headed into The Horseshoe to watch the Buckeyes’ 26-21 win over Michigan on an official visit Nov. 24.

He announced his commitment at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday and plugged a hole the Buckeyes have been trying to fill for more than seven months.

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LB Trey Johnson chooses Ohio State

January, 4, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For months, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his staff have made the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect in the country a recruiting priority.

Their patience paid off tonight when Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) committed to Ohio State during the Under Armour All-America Game, live on ESPN.

Johnson chose Ohio State over Florida and Tennessee.

A longtime Auburn Tigers commitment, Johnson happened to be returning from his official visit to Ohio State on Nov. 25 when Auburn fired coach Gene Chizik. That time on the Columbus, Ohio, campus helped the No. 2 inside linebacker get a better feel for the Buckeyes.

“When I took a visit up there it was different,” said Johnson, a starter in the UA Game. “I kind of like the feel up there, the depth chart. And there are many factors that make it a good fit there.”

The addition of Johnson gives Ohio State 20 commitments, nine of those being members of the ESPN 150, and boosts what is already the No. 4 recruiting class in the ESPN rankings.

Johnson, who made 140 tackles, three sacks, and one interception as a senior, is the first linebacker commitment for the Buckeyes in the 2013 class. They are still working to add linebacker and ESPN 150 prospect Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy), and are in the mix for another standout in the Peach State, Under Armour All-American safety Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland).
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- And then there were five.

Under Armour All-America Game officials have confirmed that Pomfret (Md.) McDonough four-star offensive tackle Na'Ty Rodgers will not announce his decision tonight’s game. Kickoff for the sixth annual game is at 5 p.m. ET and is broadcast on ESPN.

Rodgers tweeted late last night that he wasn’t going to announce his decision and likely would wait until signing day.

“I've decided to not announce tomorrow,” the tweet said. “Sorry folks.”

Rodgers was expected to decide between Maryland and South Carolina at the game, but now he’s going to wait. Oklahoma and Washington have also been in contention with Rodgers, who ranks as the nation’s No. 27 offensive tackle and the No. 9 player in Maryland.

Still scheduled to announce are four-star safety Leon McQuay III, four-star defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko, four-star athlete Max Redfield, four-star linebacker Trey Johnson and four-star athlete Kendell Beckwith.

McQuay is expected to pick between Florida State and USC. Ogundeko lists Syracuse and Clemson as the favorites.

Redfield listed Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC as his finalists, but the Buckeyes aren't actively recruiting him and he should pick between the Irish and Trojans.

Beckwith will decide between LSU and Alabama. Johnson will choose from Ohio State, Tennessee and Florida, but the final pick will be between the Buckeyes and Vols.

Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013

Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

UA Game: Trey Johnson Interview

January, 1, 2013

Phil Murphy talks to uncommitted inside linebacker Trey Johnson after the second day of practice at the Under Armour All-America Game. Johnson will announce his college decision at 5 p.m. ET Jan. 5 on ESPN. It's down to Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee.

#UAGame practice: Day 2 notebook 

January, 1, 2013

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There were several standouts at Tuesday's Day 2 practice for the Under Armour All-America Game (5 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN). Two players -- one for Team Nitro, the other for Team Highlight -- said they are closing in on their college decisions and will make their announcements Friday. Meanwhile, the nation's No. 1 player left the field at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports with an injury.

Folston closing in on decision

Four-star athlete Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) is set to make his college decision Friday. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound ESPN 150 will chose between Notre Dame, Florida State and Oregon.

Folston has been a standout defensive back during the first two days of practice, but he's being recruited by all three of his final schools to play running back.

He said he likes the familiar feeling he gets from Notre Dame and Oregon.

"It's just a home feeling, the fans around there are great fans. The community is all involved in football. It's just a nice town and a home feeling environment. With Oregon, it's pretty much the same as Notre Dame. They are two different schools but I call it 'the village,' just everybody in that place comes together and helps support the team."

Florida State is the only school Folston is considering from his home state, but he insists distance won't be a factor in his decision.

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