Checking in at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds at Alabama on Saturday, plenty of eyes were already on Ryan Johnson. But his performance in front of the Crimson Tide staff and against others, including several older than him, made the 2016 standout one of the lucky few to head home with a verbal offer.
"They actually brought me into Coach [Nick] Saban's office and he offered me there, so that was pretty cool," he said. "I was extremely blessed to get that opportunity to play at the next level. Not only for me, but for my team, not only have I worked hard to get to this point but also a lot of teammates and other people have helped me get to this place. I feel really honored. I had a great time, I was really excited, I just feel extremely blessed that God has given me this opportunity.
"They offered me as a tackle, that's where I hope to play. But as long as I get a chance to play, they can put me at any position they want."
Johnson, one of two top rising-juniors at Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy along with fellow tackle Bryce Mathews who was also offered Saturday, proved his worth in several ways before learning of the big news.
"I talked to some of the coaches; they really liked my playing style, how tall I am and how strong I am," he said. "They really liked my quick feet and my long arms. Multiple coaches were telling me that, but my recruiting coach is Coach [Kevin] Steele. He's the main one talking to me. I have met him before and talked to him a couple times, so we've got a good relationship and have gotten to know each other.
"I really like Alabama, I haven't gotten to talk to the coaches individually, but I got to see the campus and how they coach -- I really like the campus. It was really gorgeous, and I liked the way the coaches coach, so I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. "
The Johnson family also made the trip to Tuscaloosa, it was the first impression of the area for all involved.
"They really liked it, they also liked the campus, how the coaches coach," Johnson said. "For my mom, she was most impressed with the academics of Alabama. They have a great engineering department, she was impressed with it and I was too. I want to study engineering, I think."
But don't expect him to slow the process down anytime soon.
"I'm just trying to make sure I look at all my options right now, I want to absorb all of this, but it definitely has to make me think," Johnson said. "Alabama has won multiple championships, so I have to think about that.
"But I really have no set date for which I'm going to make the decision. I want to take my time to get to know all the schools that I'm considering, to get to know the coaches, the players and the atmosphere at the school so I can make an informed decision to where I'm going to spend the next five years of my life."
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