Sign to Place Prospect Picks Tigers

Offensive line prospect Jermaine Johnson plans to sign with the Tigers.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.--Auburn picked up its 24th public verbal commitment from offfensive line prospect Jermaine Johnson, a sign to place prospect from St. Thomas Aquinas High.

Johnson told Inside the Auburn Tigers that he committed to the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon after he and his mother met with Auburn assistant coach Eddie Gran in Fort Lauderdale.

"Auburn is a great place and I am committing to Auburn," he says. "I really like Coach Gran a lot. He is a great man and I can talk to him like a brother.

"I really like the campus and the people at Auburn. It is a place where I can get a great education."

Johnson, who has played just one year of high school football, is headed to prep school after his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas, but isn't sure which one he will attend. He plans to take care of his academic business there before joining the Tigers.

Once he gets to Auburn he will be reunited with his teammate, Wes Byrum, a kicker who is a verbal commitment to Auburn.

"We was really excited when I told him," the lineman says. "He was jumping on me and going crazy."

The 6-6, 295 chose Auburn over Mississippi State where he took an official visit last weekend.

He is currently playing basketball and averages 14 points and nine rebounds per game.

The 2006 season was Johnson's first to play football 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."

Smith, who led St. Thomas Aquinas to the state championship game in football, says, "Jermaine is a big kid who was just a basketball player before he decided to come out for football in the spring. He is going to visit Auburn and Mississippi State."

Smith notes that Johnson is still growing and that he is a good athlete. "He started for us this year and has a lot of potential," says the coach who adds, "I don't have any doubt he is a Division I prospect."

Johnson also had offers from Mississippi State, Kansas State and Central Florida.

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