Merrillville High School; Merrillville, Ind.
Measurements: 5’10”, 170 lbs.
Accolades: The consensus three-star recruit is the No. 13 prospect in the state of Indiana, per rivals.com.
Other Notable Offers: A former Cincinnati commit, Johnson follows Irish cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens to Notre Dame. Mickens joined the Irish in February, and then kept recruiting Johnson until he decommitted from the Bearcats in mid-October. Johnson also considered Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa, among others.
Projected Position: Notre Dame has largely overcome the 2017 recruiting gaffe of not signing any cornerbacks, but continuing to add numbers to solve that problem does not hurt.
Quick Take: Johnson spent most of his high school career at receiver, showcasing his speed but thus needing to develop his coverage skills, a task he can begin in earnest when he enrolls early in February.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: With three or four cornerbacks in this class, depending on one possibly moving to safety, not all of them will break into the two-deep from the outset. Johnson’s speed but lack of coverage experience should set him up for more special teams work than anything in 2021.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Speed and quick hips can take a cornerback a long way. If/when Johnson adds coverage skills to his quiver, the Irish always seem to be one cornerback short, so there will be a role waiting for him.
Crespi High School; Encino, Calif.
Measurements: 6’1”, 170 lbs.
Accolades: The consensus three-star recruit is the No. 39 cornerback in the class and No. 29 player in California this cycle, per rivals.com.
Other Notable Offers: The vast majority of Tucker’s suitors came from the West Coast, led by Washington, Washington State and Arizona, joined by Boise State, BYU and Hawaii. Frankly, programs of all types sought him, with five Ivy League programs joining the fray, as well.
Projected Position: Tucker may need some time to acclimate at cornerback, having focused much of his high school time on receiver.
Quick Take: The day may never come that Notre Dame has enough cornerbacks. Right now, for example, in the midst of an unbeaten season and arguably with its best all-around team in more than 30 years, the Irish could use a nickel back. Taking flyers on athletic perimeter players to throw into the mix is a prudent approach to what has always been a numbers game.
Short-Term Roster Outlook: Watching Tucker on tape, one gets the feeling he would have received a bit more recruiting praise in a normal cycle. One way or another, perhaps simply via special teams work, he Will Likely find his way onto the field in 2021.
Long-View Depth Chart Impact: Things are not inherently dire for Notre Dame at cornerback; they just are not close to comfortable. Consider the 2021 outlook: Clarence Lewis will start on one side, and Tariq Bracy will get the first crack at the other. But Bracy has not made it through any of his three seasons without getting exploited in man coverage, so his work remains tenuous. And that still leaves a need at nickel back.
There are other young options on the roster, but suffice it to say, every cornerback will get a chance.
SIGNING DAY COVERAGE
— On Signing Day, remember Notre Dame’s surge has hinged on three-stars
— A Signing Day surprise: Four-star safety Khari Gee, flipped from LSU
— A Signing Day surprise: Consensus four-star RB Audric Estime, flipped from Michigan State
— Consensus four-star QB Tyler Buchner
— Trio of four-star WRs in Lorenzo Styles, Deion Colzie and Jayden Thomas
— Five-star offensive tackle Blake Fisher and four-star guard Rocco Spindler
— Consensus four-star LB Prince Kollie, the day’s greatest worry
— Hawaiian LB Kahanu Kia
— Cornerbacks Philip Riley and Ryan Barnes
— Three-star cornerbacks JoJo Johnson and Chance Tucker
— Consensus three-star safety Justin Walters
— Tight ends Cane Berrong and Mitchell Evans
— Consensus four-star defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio
— Pair of California defensive ends, Will Schweitzer and Devin Aupiu
— Three more offensive linemen in Caleb Johnson, Pat Coogan & Joe Alt
— Inexperienced defensive end Jason Onye
— Kicker Joshua Bryan