Left tackle prospect stands out at new school

Joey Kaufman
Paris Johnson, left, played at Cincinnati St. Xavier last season but transferred to Cincinnati Princeton in hopes of graduating a semester early and enrolling at Ohio State. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Within three days, the video clip had been viewed more than 15,000 times.

In the second half of Cincinnati Princeton’s 42-0 win over Cincinnati Withrow last Friday, offensive left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. pushed a smaller defender toward the sideline.

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The running back for the Vikings had used the block to head up the field, but Johnson continued to move the defender. After he fell out of bounds, Johnson pointed to the sky in celebration. “Paris Johnson taking you for a RIDE” read the caption in a tweet of the video from Overtime, a social media company that shares highlight footage.

Princeton coach Mike Daniels applauded the effort.

“He's a kid that is tenacious,” Daniels said. “And he's finishing until literally the whistle. He's out to be the best, and so playing until the whistle is important to him.”

It was an eye-catching sequence from Johnson, a 6-foot-7 lineman who is committed to Ohio State. Johnson is a five-star recruit and the top offensive tackle prospect in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

But he is looking to make an impression at a new high school for his senior season. After last season, Johnson left Cincinnati St. Xavier to transfer to Princeton, allowing him an opportunity to graduate a semester early and enroll at Ohio State before spring practice next year.

It hasn’t been an overwhelming adjustment.

Johnson's mother graduated from Princeton, as had other friends. In middle school, he served as a ball boy as well.

“While it is a brand-new school, he was familiar with the setup and it left him with less time to get adjusted,” Daniels said. “Plus, when you're that talented and playing left tackle, it ain't too hard to fit in.”

As the Vikings opened their season with consecutive dominating wins, Johnson has been a tough run blocker and capable in pass protection. Daniels said the offensive line has not allowed a sack.

One area of development for Johnson has been pre-snap adjustments and adjusting to movement from defensive lines. Opposing teams expect to be more creative against Princeton, which features other standout recruits on its offensive line.

Daniels brought up instances where defenses might blitz a linebacker and drop a defensive end into pass coverage, prompting Johnson to pick up his assignment quicker.

“Making sure he sees the different things that are coming,” Daniels said.

Daniels, a former receiver and running back at the University of Cincinnati, is in his third season as Princeton coach.

In previous seasons, he noticed highlights of Johnson, though this is the first time they have worked together.

“Any time you're a year older, you're stronger, you're more seasoned,” Daniels said. “Especially at the offensive line position, you hope that a kid’s junior year, when he’s 17, versus a kid as a senior at 18, that you see that he is a little stronger, he is a little bigger, he is a little bit more polished because he's been through the offseason another year, he’s trained another year, he's been to camps another year.”

Daniels added, “He's just a more polished kid just naturally because of his age and (having) played another year.”


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