Rivals.com - Making the Case: Michigan, Ohio State or USC for Will Johnson?
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Making the Case: Michigan, Ohio State or USC for Will Johnson?

One of the biggest commitments in the 2022 class will take place this Sunday, Feb. 28, when five-star Grosse Pointe (Mich.) South cornerback Will Johnson is scheduled to announce his decision. The finalists for Johnson’s services were defined several months ago when he announced a top three of Michigan, Ohio State and USC. Experts from the Rivals.com network covering each of those schools got together to deliberate on the choice facing Johnson.

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THE SITUATION

Johnson was just a freshman when he started landing scholarship offers. Before that year was over, it was apparent the Detroit-area prospect would have his pick of the country’s top football programs. He made several games visits to schools during the 2019 season, and continued to tour schools on his own once recruiting went into a dead period.

Johnson named a top five in November that also included Arizona State and Oklahoma, but the trio of Michigan, Ohio State and USC quickly emerged as the primary contenders. He joined a group of Michigan’s top targets on a visit to Ann Arbor in November, traveled with his family down to see Ohio State’s campus in December, then met up with fellow five-star cornerback Domani Jackson for a tour of USC’s campus in January. Those trips put Johnson in position to make the call on his college future this weekend.

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THE CONTENDERS

Michigan

“My FutureCast pick has been on Michigan for several months, and I have no reason to change it going into the decision. Johnson's father, Deon, is an ex-Wolverine, and Will grew up around the program. Despite a staff shakeup, new Michigan co-defensive coordinator Maurice Linguist has done an excellent job of recruiting Johnson with assists from staffers like Sherrone Moore, Ron Bellamy and Mike Hart. Johnson is the top overall target on Michigan's 2022 recruiting board, and the Wolverines are doing everything they can to keep the big fish at home. While Ohio State and USC have given him a lot to think about, I believe the family connection, familiarity with the staff and opportunity to play immediately will ultimately help Michigan win out.” - EJ Holland, TheWolverine.com

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Ohio State

“Ohio State has had the pedigree when it comes to developing first round corners here in recent memory and while last season may have been a bit of an anomaly in terms of pass defense, a look up-and-down any NFL roster shows plenty of highly-rated corners developed by the Buckeyes. While the Buckeyes are not the hometown or home-state school in this one, they are only three hours away, close enough to be close to home but far enough away to be off to school. The Buckeyes were a strong favorite in this one most of the way, but for whatever reason have faded down the stretch and are an unlikely pick for Will Johnson, but there is no denying that Ohio State has been 'DBU' for many top prospects for many years.” - Kevin Noon, BuckeyeGrove.com

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USC

“This is feeling like a longshot at this point for USC, but the Trojans were on the radar enough to get Johnson to Los Angeles for an informal, self-guided visit in January, where he was accompanied by fellow five-star cornerback and USC commit Domani Jackson. Much has been made about the connection between Johnson and Jackson, who took a couple of recruiting visits together, and their interest in playing together. As we saw in the 2021 cycle with five-star defensive linemen Korey Foreman and Maason Smith, that often doesn't pan out, and it would be a surprise at this point if Johnson picked USC on Sunday.” - Ryan Young, TrojanSports.com

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THE VERDICT

“There have been strong arguments that could be made for each of the three finalists over the last few months. Michigan is the home-state school and his father’s alma mater, but Jim Harbaugh’s staff went through a shake-up last month and opened the door for the other contenders. Ohio State has had great success with defensive backs possessing Johnson’s skill set, while USC was able to snag a commitment from his friend and fellow five-star Domani Jackson recently. Michigan brought in coaches like Maurice Linguist and Ron Bellamy, however, who were able to right the ship and salvage this recruitment in recent weeks, and I think it will be enough to secure the top in-state prospect when all is said and done.” -Josh Helmholdt, Rivals Midwest Analyst