Mark Johnson Excited For OSU Visit

With all three starters leaving, it's no secret that Ohio State needs linebackers in the 2006 recruiting class. The Buckeyes already have one of the nation's best: Coldwater's Ross Homan. But they are hoping to add a few more to the list, including the talented Mark Johnson from Los Angeles. Johnson will visit Ohio State this weekend and we caught up with him for the latest.

Linebacker Mark Johnson from Los Angeles Dorsey High School, ranked as the No. 10 prospect at his position in the country by, will take an official visit to Ohio State this weekend.

"Really looking forward to it," Johnson said. "I've never been in the snow ever, so I'm looking forward to that. And just seeing the stadium for the first time. Everything."

Snow is in the forecast for Friday night in Columbus, but it wasn't snowing as of Friday morning.

"It's not snowing out there right now? I thought it always snowed out there in January," Johnson said.

In addition to OSU, Johnson (6-3, 227, 4.55) is considering LSU, Oregon and California.

He has already taken official visits to LSU and Cal, and will visit Oregon Jan. 13-15.

As a senior in 2005, Johnson had 110 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He played at Culver City High School as a junior in 2004, and racked up 138 tackles and five sacks.

Johnson would like to earn early playing time in college and he knows Ohio State is losing all three starting linebackers.

"The coaches from Ohio State talk to me about that a lot," he said.

Could depth chart situations affect his decision?

"Yes sir, because at Ohio State, there's an opportunity for early playing time," Johnson said.

Johnson is being recruited by OSU co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell.

"He's a good person," Johnson said. "That's going to be my position coach if I go there, so we've bonded real well and I've talked to him about a lot of stuff. Don't hold nothing back when I talk to him."

Johnson has not spoken with OSU head coach Jim Tressel yet, not even by telephone.

"I haven't talked to him yet. I'll meet him this weekend," he said.

Tressel will likely make an in-house visit with Johnson in the coming weeks.

Johnson watched Ohio State's 34-20 win over Notre Dame in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl and came away impressed with the Buckeyes.

"Yes, I saw it. Ohio State played a great game," he said. "They have great speed and honestly great coaching. And they execute."

Johnson also tuned in for Wednesday's national championship game when Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 upset of USC in the Rose Bowl.

And Johnson was not pulling for his hometown team.

"Vince Young went to work," he said. "I was rooting for Texas. I was tired of the SC era. I didn't want it to be the SC era when I was in college. I might be a Buckeye, you know what I'm saying."

So, is Johnson leaning towards selecting OSU?

"Not really," he said. "I'm just keeping my options open right now."

When can fans expect a decision?

"It could be any time now," Johnson said.

But could a kid that has lived his whole life in a warm weather climate adjust to the cold winters of Ohio?

"Yeah, I could adjust," he said. "I like the great academics and great football program that they have out there."

Some prospects enjoy the recruiting process, while others dread it. Johnson falls in the former category.

"It's fun, I love it," he said. "I thank God that I'm in this position. You can't take nothing for granted."

Johnson is a versatile linebacker. Some analysts believe he will be a middle ‘backer in college, but he could also end up on the outside.

"I can play both," Johnson said. "They say I can play all three. They said I could play in the middle, or I could play out in space, or I could come off the edge."

Johnson is also an excellent centerfielder in baseball and could choose to play both sports in college. He might also be drafted in the June Major League Baseball amateur draft.

Johnson carries a 2.5 GPA and scored a 1350 on the new-version SAT. He can bench 300, squat 500 and has a 37-inch vertical.

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