INDIANAPOLIS – Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. For Ohio State cornerback transfer Tyreke Johnson he wasn’t able to find his way into the rotation for Buckeyes.
He wanted a fresh start, and one of the first people he reached out to was his former high school teammate Deontai Williams. The 24-year old super senior chose to come back to NU for a sixth season in 2021. Williams and Johnson have talked regularly for years.
“He told me he was transferring and I was like ‘would you come to a place like Nebraska?’ He said he didn’t know yet, but if you could convince me, then maybe yeah,” Williams said. “That’s what I did. I showed him around and showed him how this fan base is so crazy about their football players and stuff like that. Nebraska is like a family environment.”
Johnson arrived to Lincoln in June, and so far NU head coach Scott Frost said the reports have been strong.
The former five-star is hoping to find his way on the field in a secondary that returns three starters in 2021.
“Tyreke was looking to do something else,” Frost said. “He has had some success at the school he was at before. It was a position where we thought we could use another hand. I think his upside is huge.
“He’s friends with Deontai who’s here. They went to the same high school and they’ve known each other a long time. We knew a lot about him as a person from Deontai. We thought he was the right fit.”
Frost added, without Williams, it would have been a lot harder to land Johnson. That relationship paved the way for his visit to Lincoln.
“We had an inside angle with Tyreke (Johnson) because of Deontai (Williams),” Frost said. “Those guys grew up together and played Little League together. Sometimes, there’s kids that you’ve recruited before, somebody on your team knows, that makes it a little bit easier, but you have got to keep your eyes open, and keep listening, and try to find the right ones that fit your program, and then, do as much research as you can to try to make sure you bring in the right person to the team.”
Johnson steps into a secondary room that features two sixth-year seniors Williams and Marquel Dismuke, and preseason All-Big Ten cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt.
He’ll battle guys like Quinton Newsome and Braxton Clark for the fourth and fifth defensive back spot. It’s hard not seeing a scenario where Johnson is not on the field in 2021.
“He fits in very well,” Williams said of Johnson. “The secondary is always competing and nobody is safe, and he knows that. Tyreke knows he’s going to have compete for a spot.
“I see a hunger in him every day and every workout. I see that passion he has for the game. I see he just wants to go out there and get his name out there and let people know he’s still that five-star talent that he once was.”
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