When newly-minted California commit Vince Johnson got to speak with Golden Bears offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on his unofficial visit on Tuesday, the self-glossed old fat man's Southern drawl immediately drew in the young offensive lineman from Sacramento (Calif.) Christian Brothers.
Johnson was actually born in Maryland, and grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., so Franklin's Kentucky drawl made Johnson feel right at home.
"I'm from the South too, so hearing coach Franklin's accent, it reminded me of back home, which is nice," Johnson laughs.
Of course, one of the biggest draws for Johnson was not just that Southern twang; it was the fact that Christian Brothers runs the Tony Franklin System – the same one Franklin is bringing to Berkeley.
Another thing Franklin is bringing to Berkeley? Zach Yenser. Yenser played under Franklin at Troy, and coached under him as an offensive line assistant at Louisiana Tech. Though he has yet to be officially announced as Cal's new offensive line coach, Yenser was the point man in Johnson's recruitment.
"Cal first contacted my head coach at the beginning of Christmas break, and we had a meeting. It wasn't really serious yet, because they didn't have an offensive line coach," Johnson says. "I met with coach Franklin, and he met with my parents, and we realized that Cal was such a great school. It's the No. 1 public school in the nation, and education for me is big, because there is life after football."
Education is quite important to Johnson and his family, which moved to Sacramento after Johnson's father – Vincent L. Johnson – got the job as the Chief Operating Officer of the UC Davis Medical Center in the state capitol.
Johnson has a 3.2 GPA and is as well-spoken as he is verbose. He says that one of the careers he's thinking about going into is sports journalism.
Before he can embark on that journey, though, he's got some things to take care of on the football field, and that's where Yenser comes in.
"I didn't talk to the offensive line coach until recently. Coach Yenser, the offensive line coach, he came out on Friday, after school, and we talked for about two hours, and he informed me that I had a scholarship offer to the University of California, and I was just on Cloud Nine," Johnson says. "I was ecstatic. It's a great school. I talked to my family that night, and we decided that we were going to take an unofficial [Tuesday] and we went, and we fell in love with it, and I committed."
On his unofficial, Johnson got to sit down with Yenser and talk about the finer points of the offense, and the responsibilities of the offensive line, where Johnson will likely fit in as a big guard, at 6-foot-5, 257 pounds.
"He called me about a week and a half before he came out, and that was our first conversation. He told me he was the guy they hired, and gave me some background," says Johnson. "Louisiana Tech's offensive line only gave up 10 sacks in 533 snaps. If you give up one sack every 53 times, your quarterback's going to like you. Finding stuff like that out, it's great. He's a coach who's really big on technique, which is great for me. We watched film on my unofficial visit, and they run the same system that we run at Christian Brothers, which is another thing that drew me to Cal. Seeing that, looking at that offense, watching it on film, that was big, because it's the same system that I've already learned at Christian Brothers. Just looking at that, he really knows how to coach. I'm just really excited that I get to be coached by someone who's played."
This weekend, Johnson will take his official visit to Cal, along with another big offensive line target with whom he is more than familiar.
"The big thing is meeting some of the other players in my recruiting class. I know one of the guys who's going to be there is Aaron Cochran, and I played against him my senior year when we played Buhach Colony," Johnson says. "I know he's a great player -- a great lineman -- and we can do great things, I think. Being with a guy like him could be huge for me. He's a good player. Really, the biggest thing about the official is to get closer to the other players that are going to be going to Cal, this weekend."
Ryan Gorcey publishes Cal Sports Digest and writes about Major League Baseball for FOXSportsNEXT. Follow him on Twitter @RGBearTerritory.
Beyond the Commitment: Vince Johnson
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