5-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson has made a verbal commitment to play football for Paul Chryst and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers.
Johnson is one of the bigger names in this class, and he represents a huge recruiting win for Chryst and his staff. Conversely, this is a big loss for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, as they were considered to be the "other school" Johnson was looking at.
This is a loss that's undoubtedly going to sting for Meyer and his recruiting staff, but they can't give up on the 5-star offensive tackle just yet. Johnson is considered to be the No. 5 offensive tackle recruit in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and at 6'6'', 268 pounds, it's not hard to see that the offensive lineman out of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania has a ton of potential.
Jared Shanker of ESPN Recruiting Nation reports on Johnson's commitment:
Dorian Johnson, an ESPN 150 prospect and the No. 2 offensive tackle nationally, committed to Pitt while on his official visit this weekend, Belle Vernon (Pa.) Area coach Aaron Krepps told ESPN in a text message.
Where does Ohio State turn now that the 5-star offensive tackle has committed to the Panthers?
The good news is, while they are down, they may not be out of the running just yet. Shanker also reports that Johnson has upcoming visits to OSU planned:
Johnson has an official visit to Ohio State planned for Dec. 7 and is slated to visit unofficially Nov. 24 for the Michigan game. It is not clear if those visits still will take place.
The first thing Meyer and his staff has to do is make sure that Johnson knows that he's still more than welcome to come visit OSU—officially or unofficially. Remember, nothing is set until national signing day, so the Buckeyes still have plenty of time to sway his decision.
Getting him to that official visit is going to be very important, but imagine how big it could be for Ohio State if Johnson decides to unofficially visit for the Michigan game as well.
If the Buckeyes can beat their rivals on November 24th, they will have successfully completed an undefeated season. While it may not have bowl game or national-championship implications because of the one-year bowl ban OSU is currently serving, having an undefeated season under his belt in his first year at the helm for Ohio State would be a great recruiting point for Meyer.
That's not even to mention what the crowd and atmosphere is bound to be like at The Horseshoe for that game...
Ohio State has to hope that Johnson still wants to make that unofficial trip over to Columbus for the Michigan game, because it could end up being a pivotal moment that they can point back to when trying to sway him away from Pitt. Of course, they wouldn't be able to do anything in an official capacity, but one can only imagine that Meyer and his staff would feel really good if Johnson did end up catching the game in Columbus.
Ohio State may have lost out on his recruitment for now, but they aren't done just yet. Meyer is one of the best recruiters in college football, and he has a ton of great points up his sleeve.
Ohio State is on the verge of an undefeated season. Pitt can finish this year at 6-6 at best, but considering they play No. 18 Rutgers next weekend, a .500 finish is unlikely.
Ohio State is a national powerhouse that plays in the Big Ten. Pitt is struggling to remain relevant in the Big East.
So, where should Ohio State go from here?
They need to keep recruiting Johnson, and they desperately need to try to find a way to convince him that leaving the Pittsburgh area won't be all that bad (Pitt is just under an hour away from his house).
OSU needs to pitch Johnson on the potential the Buckeyes have under Meyer, but they also need to sell him on the potential that he has in their system. They need to hope that he still takes his scheduled visits, and they need to make the best impression they can with the 5-star offensive tackle.
Thankfully for Meyer and his Buckeyes football program, they won't have to try all that hard to be impressive.
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