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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
It sounds like the decision for 5-star DB Tyreke Johnson has gotten a lot tougher over the last few months.

5-star Tyreke Johnson ‘loves’ UGA but now has Clemson, Florida and Ohio State on his mind

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way a 5-star prospect like Tyreke Johnson might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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Tyreke Johnson stands out. Always.

The 5-star prospect rolled his ankle earlier this year the day before Nike’s “The Opening” Orlando regional. Johnson still “got open” and even flashed with a 4.58 showing in the 40 on the laser.

His wheel was hobbled. That meant he went deep on press man coverage during those drills. Johnson still stood out. The 5-star is rated as the nation’s No. 2 safety but has never been comfortable with being cast as a prospect at that position.

The 6-foot-1, 191-pound prospect makes it clear to recruiters that he is a cornerback. That’s the Power 5 schools are recruiting him to play, too.

Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson’s college decision now includes a lot more schools. UGA is no longer the main school he’s considering in the South. (Jeff Sentell / SEC Country.com)

The younger brother of former Florida Mr. Football D’Andre Johnson has always had advanced thinking regarding his recruiting. He played on a well-respected Pro Impact Sports 7-on-7 team at an early age. Johson has grown the “Young Bull” stage as the freshman next big thing to what he calls the “Mufasa” stage. he’s expected to be among the elite but also spread his knowledge base around.

He’s one of the elite. Yet he also passes his knowledge on to the next bull. Johnson has a network of big-timers to call upon like Florida’s Chauncey Gardner and Georgia’s Richard LeCounte III, among many others.

There was a time where it was likely to project Johnson to UCLA or Georgia. He still “loves” Georgia, but he said that is no longer the school he’s most likely to choose if he wants to play in the South.

His decision has evolved.

How Tyreke Johnson feels right now  

The Trinity Christian Academy standout was rated early as a safety because that’s where analysts first saw him. He would’ve been a corner if not for the fact that future 4 and 5-star recruits were already manning those spots for those 7-on-7 teams. Those guys were very good. They were also older.

He’s also very focused on his high school team. Trinity has the chance to win its fifth straight Florida high school title this fall. That looms large on his mind.

Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson said that his early visits to FSU were special. But he thinks the best visits he’s been on of late were to Georgia and Ohio State. Ohio State sounded like it had a slight edge. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

But he knows his decision has gotten harder. A lot harder. It sounds like Florida and Miami have seriously upgraded their profile on his radar. Clemson is also another school he has on his mind. Georgia and UCLA are still there, but he also mentions a high level of appreciation for Ohio State.

It sounds like it will be a battle for Johnson. He plans to spend the bulk on his summer visiting schools and researching all his options. There are a lot of moving parts to his decision. The best way to present them is to just push them out in rapid-fire fashion.

The thought bubbles to keep in mind for Tyreke Johnson

  • Georgia would be the one school that he feels he knows the most about. He already has all the answers for what his college life would be like in Athens. He doesn’t need any more visits to figure out UGA. 
  • When asked about his the best college visits he’s ever been on, he immediately named Georgia and Ohio State. But then he gave it to the Buckeyes. When he traveled with his good friend Shaun Wade to the Nebraska game, it was a seismic moment. Wade was on his official visit. Johnson was essentially his wingman. That trip on his birthday weekend moved the dial for him. Clearly.
  • Johnson said that because of that Ohio State is in it for him. At this time, he said Urban Meyer would be the one head coach that is the most involved in his recruiting process. “Coach Meyer sends me a lot of videos and tells me about Ohio State. He says that I have a great chance to play there with Shaun. Ohio State is definitely a top school that I would love to go to. It is always a kid’s dream in Florida to go play for Urban Meyer. I would love to team back up with Shaun.”
  • He’s not sure which program that is recruiting him now has the best chance of grooming him for the next level. That’s a key factor. He needs to figure that out. When that subject came up, he also mentioned LSU as a school he feels that prepares its defensive backs very well for the NFL.
  • Tyreke Johnson
    Tyreke Johnson is rated as a safety but definitely plans to play cornerback in college. (Jeff Sentell / SEC Country.com)

    The number of times that a coach or school contacts him will not heavily influence his decision. He’s not going to let himself be dependent on what they have to tell him about their program. He aims to do his own independent research to see if what he hears and thinks about a school actually matches up.

  • Clemson recruits him the hardest. “The edit team there is amazing,” Johnson said. He also highly respects Clemson assistant Jeff Scott. He got to know Scott well when his brother was being recruited. Clemson standout DL Dexter Lawrence is also his cousin. “I get to get down there to Clemson,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been down there. I need to get over there this summer and really check out what they do with their DBs and how they train them.”
  • Johnson will still enroll early. Look for him to make his decision sometime in December. He plans to take a few of his official visits during the regular season, but the bulk will come during the Florida high school state playoffs. He will also play in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American game and then move from there directly to his new team. 
  • He has a few official visits figured out but plans to release all of them at the same time. Johnson still adores UCLA. “I love UCLA,” he said. “I love what they did with Fabian Moreau. He wasn’t a guy that was highly talked about on ESPN and all that. But he was just projected as the No. 24 pick to go in the first round (of the NFL) so it is one of those things that the way UCLA is producing guys is eye-opening.”
  • Johnson noted that Florida and Ohio State have made the biggest gains with him over the last few months. Those appear to be the hot teams that are surging in his recruiting process.
  • He wants to wear No. 13 in college. That’s not possible at UCLA. Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban retired that number in Westwood. He feels he can wear that No. 13 at Florida, Ohio State and UGA.  
  • Johnson plans to major in business and finance. He also wants to minor in communications. He said he feels like Ohio State and UCLA both offer the best fits for his academic goals at this time. 

Why Georgia still appeals to Tyreke Johnson

As stated earlier, Johnson can no longer say that UGA will be the place if he decides to play college ball close to home in the South.

Florida is there. Miami is also there. Clemson is also in there now.

“Georgia is still a strong ‘up there’ school,” Johnson said. “Georgia is still one of my favorite schools. I love it and I love the coaching staff. Love the city. I love what the coaches and players there believe in and play for. I love what they teach their players over the years. That’s all the way from coach (Mark) Richt and to this day now with coach (Kirby) Smart.”

He said he still can only go about 7-to-10 days before he hears from his good friend Richard LeCounte III.

Johnson was at the Kirby Smart Camp this summer at UGA and made one unofficial last visit this season. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

“You know Richie can’t go too long without talking to me,” Johnson said. “You know that. He is just like ‘You know little brother I don’t care where you go. I want you to come here but you are my little brother at the end of the day.’ He said he will love me where ever I go. But I know I do have to go back up there and chill with him and have fun with him. … He said he’s ready to see me and wants me to come on up.”

Johnson will not be at the G-Day on April 22. He plans to watch his older brother work at QB in his first year playing for Lane Kiffin at FAU.

While his decision has grown complicated, the same core values are still in play. Those will still largely decide where he winds up.

“Basically whether I feel at home at a school and then early playing time,” he said.

Johnson said that Florida, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State and UCLA are the schools which offer him the best chance at early playing time.

Florida is also working hard for Tyreke Johnson

Johnson said the guys from home are the ones that are working on him for Florida.

“Chauncey Garnder is like my cousin to me,” Johnson said. “He is like a big brother to me. Nick Washington is there. He’s another Trinity graduate. He speaks very highly. I also just love the way that coach Skip (assistant coach Tim Skipper) recruits. They just don’t tell me that I have to chance to play. They show me I have a chance to play. Florida also shows me it plays kids when they are young.”

He points out what Gardner did last year for the Gators in the bowl game.

“He won the MVP of the bowl game,” Johnson said. “When was the last time a true freshman won the MVP in the bowl game? That shows that Florida is putting its young talent out there. First. The best are going to play at Florida. They’ve convinced me on that.”

Johnson spent some time yesterday working out with Pro Impact alum Kevin Toliver. The 5-star prospect from 2015 went on to a successful career at LSU.