TALK ABOUT THE VISIT WEEKEND HERE
On his way home from his official visit to California, Sacramento (Calif.) Christian Brothers offensive lineman Vince Johnson had to make a stop to grab something to eat. It wasn't that he went hungry this past weekend in Berkeley -- far from it -- but between now and when he next pulls on a Golden Bears jersey, he's going to need to pack on the pounds.
"Actually, it was probably eating a lot of food," Johnson said, when asked what his favorite part of the visit was. "It was great food, the entire weekend, and that was great. Then, the second was hanging out with the other players and the other recruits, and meeting guys like me. That was the other great thing that we did, so those were my two favorite parts of the trip."
One of the shiny new toys the Bears have, of course, is the High Performance Zone, ensconced as the centerpiece of the Simpson Center for Student Athlete High Performance. Getting to work out in that Performance Center didn't hit Johnson until he saw it, in all its glory, and saw what happens behind the scenes.
"The new High Performance Center is top-notch," Johnson said. "I think it's one of the best in the nation. There's so much good going on at Cal right now. The High Performance Center was amazing. I looked in there, and the weight room in there, that's where you're going to be gaining a lot of weight. Coach [Mike] Blasquez, he knows what he's talking about. He knows that not only do you have to eat right to gain weight, but you have to live right, and if you live right, you eat right.
"They have a nutrition center, they have trainers to make sure we're taking care of our bodies, and that's big. You have to go somewhere where you trust the guys who are taking care of you, and these guys at Cal, they make you trust them, and that's the big thing for me. I wouldn't have gone into this process if I didn't think that Cal was a great fit for me, because of not only the coaching staff, but the program. I know that coaching staffs can change, but the program is what's going to stay around."
Johnson said that after meeting with the trainers and Blasquez, he was comfortable with what they wanted to do to re-shape his body into a Pac-12 offensive lineman.
Beyond just the weight room, though, the visit lived up to and surpassed Johnson's greatest hopes and expectations.
"Oh, man, Cal is the perfect place for me," Johnson gushed. "I'm so happy I made the decision to go to California-Berkeley. The school, the people, everything was just a great fit. Everyone there was so welcoming, all the players that I met, and they showed me around, they were all welcoming and they made sure that I felt like a part of the Cal family, which is a big thing. It just felt like the right place to be."
Earlier this week, after a brief unofficial, Johnson flipped his commitment from Iowa State to Cal, and the visit only served to validate his decision.
"I think Cal was the only school that I would have de-committed from Iowa State for, and when they came in, I was just happy," Johnson said. "It's such a great school, and the people there are so nice. I think I made the right decision."
From Friday evening when Johnson arrived, until Sunday afternoon when Johnson left, the Bears served up one hit after another for the 6-foot-5, 257-pounder.
"Friday night, it was just a relaxed night. We got to the campus and stayed at the Claremont hotel, which is spectacular. Then, we went out to dinner with the recruits and the coaches," Johnson recalled. "We went to dinner with the coaches and some of the other players, and then after that, a couple of the players showed me around the campus, and we went back to an apartment and played some video games. It was a chill night, Friday night.
"We went to San Francisco and had dinner at Neptune's on Pier 39, and it was just great food. So much great stuff is around the Berkeley area, and that's really cool."
The surrounding town -- and the Bay Area as a whole -- immediately sold Johnson's mother.
"Mom is a huge fan of me being close, so she loved it," Johnson said. "She loves Berkeley, the town. She says she can go shopping there, she's close to San Francisco -- she has no problems with me going to Cal."
"Dad, he's been a proponent of Cal, since this whole process began -- the first meeting with coach [Tony] Franklin," Johnson said.
What made his decision to commit to Cal perhaps more real than it has been in the days since he pulled the trigger, was getting to pull on a blue and gold jersey with his high school number.
"It was so impressive," Johnson said. "To take the time to do that for us, that's just true class right there. They know what their recruits like to see. It's just so nice to see all the gear the guys get, and specifically, to see the Cal program cares enough about their recruits enough to go through the time to make a locker for just recruits. That shows so much class, and that shows that we really do matter to them. It really meant a lot."
Johnson's No. 74, though, is occupied, already, by a familiar face: Matt Cochran, brother and player host of Johnson's fellow official visitor, Aaron Cochran.
"It was really cool. I met with Aaron, and we talked about the games we played against each other, and he beat me both games, so he made sure he brought that up a couple times," Johnson laughed. "It was still good to talk to him, and I'm trying to get him to be a Cal Bear. Matt is a Bear, so I hung out with Matt -- his older brother -- too, and I didn't realize he's a redshirt freshman, and I had played against him last year. I got to hang a lot with the Cochran brothers, and neither of them let me forget how they beat me, but it was nice to see him and talk to him and just get to know each other a little bit better."
Johnson's player host for the weekend was yet another offensive lineman in redshirt sophomore Geoffrey Gibson.
"It was spectacular. He was a guy who was a lightly recruited like I am, and I don't think Cal was his number one, but after he got here, he fell in love with it," Johnson said. "He told me, ‘You're going to fall in love with Cal, no matter what.' Geoff's a great guy, I'm glad he showed me around. He showed me everything I need to see to make sure that Cal was the right fit for me."
Johnson not only got to meet with his future teammates, but also had a one-on-one with not-yet-officially-announced offensive line coach Zach Yenser.
"I met with my position coach, coach Yenser, for about 25 minutes," Johnson said. "We went over some film, and went over the basics of the new Bear Raid system that they're putting in at Cal, and then I met with coach [Sonny] Dykes with my mother and father for about 10-15 minutes. We talked about the types of guys that go to Cal, all the commitments I had to make, and I think I'm going to make those commitments, because Cal has made those commitments to me."
VISIT REPORT: Vince Johnson
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