The 6-foot-4, 240-pound rush end with a 4.6 40 had been committed to the Sun Devils for two weeks, but his trip to Berkeley last weekend proved to be the clincher for him to flip to another Pac-12 school.
Johnson – a native of Pittsburgh, Penn. – felt that he had a good opportunity to come out and play at a California junior college in order to get noticed, and get noticed he did.
As a sophomore for the Brahma Bulls, Johnson tallied 34 tackles, 15 sacks, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery in 11 games. The Bears want to use Johnson as a rush end, sometimes with his hand in the dirt, and sometimes not, but always going after the quarterback.
"Coming out to California, there was plenty of opportunities, and I made the best of it," Johnson said.
Though he has no family out on the West Coast, Johnson said that his mother was nevertheless "pretty excited" about his flip from Arizona State to Cal.
"We talked over it a couple of times, and we chose Cal," Johnson said.
One of the big reasons Johnson pulled the trigger on Wednesday was his official visit last weekend, during which he spoke with his future coach -- Garrett Chachere -- and met future teammate Trevor Kelly.
Chachere had come around to Pierce way back in September – before the Sun Devils started recruiting Johnson – and the relationship the two formed proved to be the stronger in the end.
"He's pretty cool. He's chill. I feel like we can do a lot of things together," Johnson said. "We just want to win games. I feel like if we all come together, we can do something really special. It was really cool to meet the other defensive lineman. I just got good vibes from everyone."
The most surprising part of the visit was finding out about Cal's NFL pedigree.
"They have 34 active players in the NFL right now, so I feel like I can't go wrong, because I want to get there one day, and get an education," Johnson said. "I feel like it was a win-win situation."
Coming in early is also big for Johnson, so he can get a jumpstart on preparation.
"It was very important," Johnson said. "I feel like spring is like a redshirt year for me to learn stuff. I think I'm going to do well. I'm going to take snaps and show what I've got. Getting in and going through spring, I feel like that's going to help my season."