SHARONVILLE, Ohio — At 6-feet-7-inches and 290 pounds, Paris Johnson Jr. is difficult to miss walking around Princeton High School.
His presence comes from more than being rated the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle and a five-star recruit who is verbally committed to Ohio State.
Johnson, a St. Xavier transfer, means business for his final season of high school football. He will graduate in December with plans to enroll at Ohio State in January.
“He is a one-in-an-every-25-year type of talent, especially because he plays tackle,” Princeton coach Mike Daniels said. “Princeton hasn’t had a kid like that — I don’t know the last time.”
As Daniels points out, Johnson is more than a standout offensive lineman who is committed to the All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl in January. The 18-year-old displays a maturity beyond his years on and off the field.
Whether Johnson — rated the state’s No. 1 player overall in the 2020 class by 247 Sports — offers some pointers to an underclass offensive lineman or takes a ribbing from other senior teammates about learning the Princeton alma mater, he is quickly becoming acclimated to his new surroundings.
“I have definitely built a bond,” Johnson said Monday as Princeton prepared for Camp Viking, a three-day event designed to build team chemistry through various activities around the school. “I feel like a lot of times in the meeting rooms and on the field I am just trying to show and try to explain what I know. I feel like I can help answer a lot of questions and be an example through my actions.”
Princeton senior left guard Brandon Williams said he and his teammates were looking forward to learning more about Johnson at Camp Viking.
“Paris — he is cool,” Williams said. “He isn’t big-timing us. He is friendly.”
Johnson is also a 4.0 student who was in the National Honor Society and took Mandarin classes at St. Xavier.
He wants to study broadcast journalism and be involved with football as a sportscaster after a pro career.
“He’s every bit of what you see,” Daniels said. “He’s got some room for growth just like every other 17- or 18-year-old in life, but I am telling you — the full package. Being able to communicate, articulate, he is going to have success in life just because of how great of a job his mom (Monica) did with him.”
Johnson is one of five Princeton seniors who’ve verbally committed to a college program, including defensive end and future Ohio State teammate Darrion Henry. Senior linebacker Jaheim Thomas became the latest commit when he gave a pledge to UC this past weekend.
Still, Johnson is exemplifying a leadership role with his work ethic with the Vikings. The team wants to win a Greater Miami Conference title for the first time since 2003 (co-champions with Colerain) and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Princeton will open the season at Milford on Aug. 30. Johnson said the Vikings have the talent. They just need the right mindset each week to be successful for 10 weeks and possibly beyond.
“He’s been a trooper coming in and buying into what we do and how we do it,” Daniels said. “I think he enjoys being the big dog and being able to grab and mentor a young freshman or a young sophomore and be able to show them the ropes.”