'That's why I came here': OSU tackle Paris Johnson ready for matchup vs. Isaiah Foskey

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Paris Johnson Jr. went to Ohio State to test himself against the best.

He’s going to get that challenge Saturday night in his first Buckeye start at his natural position, left tackle.

Johnson played right guard last year as Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dawand Jones played tackle. With Petit-Frere in the NFL, Johnson has shifted to be the protector of quarterback C.J. Stroud’s blind side.

His first assignment: blocking Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey, a preseason All-American who had 11 sacks and forced six fumbles last year.

Ohio State football:Our experts make 2022 predictions.

Paris Johnson Jr. (77) will get his first college start Saturday at left tackle.

“He’s a great player, a generational type of player,” Johnson said. “But I feel like the type of guy he is, we have a lot of guys like him in this building. I’m blessed to play for a program that has the same type of talent ability across the board.

“That’s why I came here. I want to go against the best people every week.”

If the Irish are able to slow Ohio State’s potent offense, Foskey will likely have to be the key to it.

“Foskey is a tremendous player, a projected first-rounder,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, “so it's going to be a huge challenge for (Paris) and for Dawand in this game. We have to know exactly where he is at all times.”

Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey had 11 sacks and forced six fumbles last year.

Ohio State's Paris Johnson is a likely first-round 2023 NFL Draft pick

Johnson, a five-star recruit from Cincinnati, is also considered a likely first-round NFL pick next year. At 6 feet 6 and 310 pounds, he combines his size with strength and athleticism.

Paris Johnson Jr. will get his first college start Saturday at left tackle.

Ohio State football:Buckeyes hungry as 2022 season set to start.

Protecting Stroud is only part of the task for Johnson and the Ohio State line. The Buckeyes’ offense put up gaudy numbers last year, but its run game struggled against top competition.

“Everyone in the country knows that we can pass the ball,” Johnson said. “Our point of emphasis, and what we're going to take pride in this season, is our run game, moving the line of scrimmage. In the offensive line room, that's what we talk about all the time.”

Even playing out of position in 2021, Johnson was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the league’s coaches.

Paris Johnson Jr. (77) will get his first college start Saturday at left tackle.

“The key for Paris was that he was willing to go in at guard and get a full year under his belt,” Day said. “A lot of guys see themselves as just a tackle. If he’d seen himself as just a tackle, he’d have zero experience really, maybe a few snaps here or there. But he’s more prepared to play this season at tackle because of that experience. I think it goes to show who he is as a person.”

Johnson acknowledged having some bumpy moments as he transitioned to tackle in the spring. But he says he is settled in.

“His last couple weeks have been excellent,” Day said.

A strong game against Foskey would be a big boost to Johnson’s draft stock. He’s not concerned about that now.

“The NFL will always be there,” Johnson said. “Trying to think about that is a distraction because the most important thing to me is beating Notre Dame.”

Get more Ohio State football news by listening to our podcasts