Large Lineman Discusses Weekend in Auburn

A football visitor to Auburn discusses his official visit.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.--St. Thomas Aquinas High School senior Jermaine Johnson's first official visit to check out a college football program was an interesting one the big lineman says.

"I think it went very well," he says. "The people at Auburn are amazing. I get along very well with the coaches. Auburn might be the best place for me to come to school. Coach (Hugh) Nall showed me the depth chart and I see the possibility of playing."

Nall is the offensive line coach for the Tigers. Johnson, a 6-6, 295-pounder, is player who is projected to spend a year in prep school before moving on to a college football program.

The 2006 season was Johnson's first to play the sport as he went out for the team last spring to see what type of potential he had in football. He ended up starting and has drawn the attention of several Division I programs. Highly successful St. Thomas Aquinas coach George Smith, whose team finished as the runnerup for the state championship this past season, notes that he has no doubt that the novice football player, who started every game this season, is a serious Division I prospect.

"The first three years I was playing basketball in high school I wasn't getting college recognition so I decided that I might as well come out and give football a try and give it my best shot," Johnson says. "Look where it has got me now."

Johnson points out that it has got him scholarship offers from Mississippi State, where he plans to visit next week, as well as Kansas State and Central Florida. He says the University of Miami has been looking, but so far has not offered. If he chooses Auburn, he would be a sign-to-place prospect who would go to prep school to qualify academically. In Johnson's case, with his short amount of time on a football field, playing a season of prep school football would also help him make the adjustment to the college game.

"I got better every day in practice this past season and I think I have become a better player and a better person by playing football," Johnson notes.

Commenting on why he liked his weekend checking out the Auburn program, Johnson says, "Mike Blanc, who is from Deerfield High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was my player host. He is a real good guy. We had a good relationship throughout the trip. I didn't know him before the trip, but I had heard of him before.

"We went to parties and stuff," Johnson notes. "I met a lot of the players on the team. They are really good people and I got along with them real well."

Johnson worked in his trip to Auburn around his basketball schedule. A player who has seen plenty of action in high school games in hoops, he notes that St. Thomas Aquinas is 16-3 this season. "We have a good team," he says. "This is my third year as a starter. This season I am averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game."

Johnson says he doesn't know when he plans to make a decision about where he will sign. "I am not sure about that," he says. "I am planning to visit Mississippi State next week."

All things considered, Johnson says that he was impressed by what he saw with Tommy Tuberville's program. "The college in Auburn not only will make you a better player, it will make you a better student and person," he states.

Johnson notes that he is a friend of Auburn commitment and teammate West Byrum, who is expected to challenge for AU's vacant field goal kicking duties this fall. "He is a really good guy and he can really kick the football."

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