Johnson Excited to Join CMU Program

Defensive tackle Todd Johnson of American River (Calif.) College had some options when it came to picking a four-year college, but after visiting Central Michigan University recently, he ended his recruitment and signed with the Chippewas. Johnson talked about his decision with Chippewas Insider.

Defensive tackle Todd Johnson celebrated his 20th birthday March 17 on St. Patrick's Day, but the next day he said he received one of the best birthday gifts ever, a phone call from Central Michigan defensive line coach Paul Volero.

"Coach Volero called to offer me an official visit to campus the last weekend in March," Johnson said. "When I arrived at CMU they offered me a scholarship on Saturday (March 29) and I signed the next day.

"The way CMU practices is awesome, it's up-tempo all the way," Johnson added. "(CMU head) coach (Butch) Jones thinks I can come in and compete right away for playing time."

For Johnson, a strong, athletic 6-foot-4, 295-pounder, choosing CMU was the end of a recruiting trail that began during his prep playing days at Vacaville (Calif.) High School when he was recruited by Pac 10 schools and offered a greyshirt opportunity by Fresno State.

At American River, Johnson excelled once more and a few BCS schools, including Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Louisville, took notice. Johnson said the Cornhuskers were very interested and wanted to sign him mid-year but he needed one more class to complete graduation requirements.

In the end, Johnson said he chose CMU over offers from Eastern Illinois and Alcorn State, while the University of Utah also expressed interest.

"People are so friendly there (CMU and Mount Pleasant), you don't see that so much anymore," Johnson said. "My family thinks CMU is a great opportunity."

Then Johnson added, laughing, "The only thing I'm going to have to get used to is the cold weather."

Johnson said coach Volero expects him to compete for playing time at defensive tackle, but Johnson knows it will be very competitive and there is always room for improvment.

"When I watched CMU practice I was impressed with Tredale Kennedy, he looks really good," Johnson said. "I need to improve in the weight room, especially my squats. The CMU players said (CMU strength and conditioning) coach (Dave) Lawson doesn't take any BS and he'll never let you fail."

Johnson said he will have three years to complete two years of eligibility at CMU. The thought of competing in college football's top division against schools like Georgia and Purdue gets Johnson fired up.

"I watched CMU on TV in the Motor City Bowl against Purdue and was impressed with the comeback," Johnson said. "It's going to be exciting (playing for the Chippewas). It gets me fired up to think I have a chance to play in front of 90,000 people at Georgia against one of the top programs in the nation."

Johnson becomes the 23rd member of the Chippewas' 2008 recruiting class. He said he plans to be at CMU June 22 to begin summer workouts.

What kind of player can CMU fans expect to see when Johnson straps on his helmet and takes the field for the Chippewas?

"I'm a force to be reckoned with," Johnson said, "a big kid who can run."

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