Gary (Ind.) West Side athlete Lonnie Johnson nearly committed to Ohio State last fall before deciding to go through the recruiting process. Almost six months later, though, the three-star still was feeling the Buckeyes.
On Sunday, as a surprise gift to his mother for Mother's Day, Johnson announced his commitment to Ohio State.
"He was high on Ohio State from the beginning because they were the first school to show him attention," said Johnson's head coach and uncle, Jason Johnson.
"I had a relationship with Urban Meyer since he was at Notre Dame, so I told [Lonnie] how much I liked Urban and how he has things going at Ohio State."
Ohio State offered Johnson last December, but it was not assured that he would end up a Buckeye over the last few months. In fact, just a few weeks back he named a top group that did not include Ohio State.
The efforts of assistant coach Mike Vrabel were a catalyst for the Buckeyes ending up with Johnson's commitment.
"Vrabel made all the visits and [Lonnie] and Vrabel had a great relationship," Coach Johnson said. "I have been associated with the whole process and nobody is even close to Vrabel in terms of the time spent here and the contact. The effort he put forth was [unmatched] by anyone else."
Another factor that helped Ohio State in this race was the coaching staff getting a chance to meet Johnson's parents, which happened earlier this spring. The relationships helped assuage other concerns Johnson had.
"He wanted to go where they were going to throw the ball 40-50 times a game and that's not Ohio State's dynamic," Coach Johnson said. "That was how Kentucky and Missouri and all those schools jumped in there.
"I told him they may not throw the ball as much as you want it, but they are going to be at the top of the Big Ten, have good draft potential and in your 4-5 years Urban is going to play for a national championship."
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Johnson does have the ability to play on the defensive side of the football in college, but is adamant about staying at the wide receiver position.
That is where Ohio State has recruited him thus far, and that is where Johnson expects to make an impact for the Buckeyes now that he has made his commitment.
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