Football: West Side’s Lonnie Johnson chooses Ohio State
By Mike Hutton firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-0141 May 12, 2013 6:12PM
West Side's Lonnie Johnson catches a pass during drills at practice. On Sunday the wide receiver committed to Ohio State University to continue his football career. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Post-Tribune
Updated: June 14, 2013 6:28AM
Lonnie Johnson has favored Ohio State ever since he was a kid. He always liked their rugged style and diversified offense.
So, it was no secret that when the Buckeyes, who had been talking to him since last summer, made an offer after the season, that he’d probably end up there.
On Sunday, Johnson, a 6-3 180 wide receiver/cornerback for West Side, made it official when he verbally committed to them. He had almost committed in February, but he decided to call it off just to make sure it was the right place for him.
Johnson said the commitment was a Mother’s Day gift to his mom, Nora Johnson. She was just as happy as he was about the news.
“I pulled the trigger today because I wanted to give a gift to my mother,” he said.
Johnson said his mom “loved the place.”
It was quite a gift for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, too.
Johnson was the centerpiece for the Cougars’ team last year, rushing for 756 yards on 75 carries while catching 31 passes, 13 of them for touchdowns. Johnson averaged 25.1 yards per reception. Defensively, he intercepted four passes and broke up 10 while playing cornerback. His coach, Jason Johnson, also his uncle, played him all over the field.
Johnson said that Meyer, who he called Sunday morning, was happy to hear that he was a Buckeye. Johnson went public with the news on Twitter Sunday.
“He was very excited,” Lonnie said. “He told me he could use me and that he’ll take care of me and help me get to the league (NFL).”
Johnson is the second player from Northwest Indiana to attend Ohio State in the last seven years. Dexter Larimore, a defensive linemen from Merillville, played for former OSU coach Jim Tressel. Jason Johnson had tried to encourage Lonnie to play cornerback in college. Jason, who played professionally for the Broncos and the Steelers, said that with his speed (4.4 in 40-yard dash) and his size that Johnson could have a clearer route to the NFL.
But Jason said he’ll play wide receiver at OSU and he has no plans to red-shirt, like Larimore did.
“I think I can bring a lot of different things to the team,” he said.
Johnson said he made his mind up for sure when he visited Columbus last month for the spring game.
“I knew then it was everything I wanted,” he said.
Johnson also considered Kentucky, Missouri, Purdue, Indiana and Cincinnati.