Ohio State Buckeyes: Paris Johnson Jr. entering NFL Draft; early enrollees begin college careers

Paris Johnson Jr. made it official: The Ohio State offensive lineman is entering the 2023 NFL Draft.

Johnson was a second-team All-Big Ten pick as a guard last season and made the first team at left tackle as a junior.

He was also a unanimous first-team All-American this season after moving to left tackle, his natural position, and he earned a degree in journalism last month.

Those were two goals he cited in his announcement on Tuesday.

“It has always been a dream of mine since I committed to The Ohio State University to leave with both my degree and a Buckeye Tree (for being named an All-American),” he wrote in a message posted to social media. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to accomplish both in three years. After having several conversations with my coaches and family, I want to accomplish the first dream of mine since I was 5 years old, which is to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.”

Johnson was a five-star prospect at Cincinnati St. Xavier and then Princeton High School in the class of 2020, and he will be considered one of the top prospects at his position in the draft heading into the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pro Football Focus ranks him the No. 2 tackle behind Peter Skoronski of Northwestern with a week go to until the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft.

“I will forever bleed Scarlet & Gray and be eternally grateful of the experiences shared here,” Johnson said.

Johnson is the third Ohio State player to confirm he is entering the draft, joining receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and safety Ronnie Hickman.

Tight end Cade Stover, running back Miyan Williams and linebacker Steele Chambers have announced they plan to return for next season while a handful of others have not made their intentions known.

The latter group includes quarterback C.J. Stroud, center Luke Wypler and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg.

Right guard Matt Jones and right tackle Dawand Jones also could go pro or use their extra season of eigliibilty resulting from the 2020 season not counting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dawand Jones is PFF’s No. 10 tackle prospect.

The deadline for players to enter the draft is Jan. 16.

As members of the 2022 team finalize their plans for the future, more than half of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class began its college journey Monday with the start of spring semester.

The 12-man group of early enrollees includes Lakota West safety Malik Hartford, Lakota East offensive lineman Austin Siereveld and Wayne offensive lineman Joshua Padilla.

Jelani Thurman, a tight end from Fairburn, Ga., and the son of former Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman, also enrolled early along with receivers Noah Rogers (Rolesville, N.C.), Bryson Rodgers (Zephyrhills, Fla.) and Carnell Tate (Chicago); offensive lineman Miles Walker (Greenwich, Conn.), defensive lineman Will Smith (Dublin, Ohio) and cornerback Jermaine Mathews (Cincinnati).

Three transfers also started school at Ohio State: former Syracuse safety Ja’Had Carter, former Kent State kicker Casey Magyar and former Arizona State long snapper John Perlmann, along with running back Willtrell Hartson, a preferred walk-on freshman from Massillon (Ohio) Washington.

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