Ohio State Buckeyes Recruiting: Why Trey Johnson Is Team's Most Crucial Recruit

Luke Petkac@@LukePetkacFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

Urban Meyer has done yet another stellar job recruiting.
Urban Meyer has done yet another stellar job recruiting.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Trey Johnson isn’t the most highly-touted recruit to commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes. He’s just the most important.

Urban Meyer has, per usual, assembled a stellar recruiting class down in Columbus. And Trey Johnson was the biggest commit of them all.

There are commits ranked above him but, in terms of importance, no one else compares. Urban Meyer needed Johnson.

Ohio State has a tradition of linebacking excellence. There have been guys like A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis and, most recently, Ryan Shazier locking down the position for the Buckeyes. Those are some pretty big names.

But that strength has the potential to become a major weakness, both this season and beyond it. Shazier is the only returning starter at the position, and the team desperately needs to find players who can give him some support

It’s not like the Buckeyes don’t have any options when it comes to filling the gaps at linebacker—they do. In fact, the Buckeyes have some really talented guys who could step up and fight for the spot.

The problem is that, to this point, none of those options have proven to be anything other than unreliable at best.

There’s a lot of names and a lot of potential. Curtis Grant, Josh Perry, Jamal Marcus, Camren Williams, David Perkins—they will all be competing for spots. But none of them are proven.

On the surface, Grant and Perry appear the most ready to step in and fill the void, but both have some big question marks.

Grant (ESPN’s No. 3 inside linebacker in 2011) is about as talented as they come at the position, but there are major concerns about his ability to adapt to the Buckeyes’ complex system. And while Perry got some burn last season, he’s still essentially completely untested.

Johnson is (obviously) as unproven as the rest of them, but he’s a superb athlete and gives Meyer what he needs most—insurance.

Even if Johnson doesn’t play this season, he’s the most highly-touted linebacker that the Buckeyes have landed in years—since Grant, in fact. Once Shazier graduates or heads to the pros, Meyer is going to need someone to build around defensively, and Johnson can be that guy.

Unless one of Ohio State’s reserves makes an astonishing leap forward, Johnson is the only recruit, or linebacker on the roster, that you would feel confident saying that about. By all accounts he’s the real deal, and he’ll give the Buckeyes defense some punch in the future.

He has a shot at seeing the field early, but even if he doesn’t, Trey Johnson is the Buckeyes' biggest recruiting get this season.