Damond Johnson picked Duke on Saturday afternoon while making an unofficial visit to Durham for the program’s first junior day of the recruiting process. And while Johnson has been under the radar for many scouts, the Blue Devils found him early and jumped.
“My recruitment began with Duke at the beginning of our football season,” Johnson told Scout.com. “They were my first offer and coach Derek Jones was my recruiting coach. I’ve also been building a relationship with the wide receiver coach, Coach Faris. I’ve heard from some other schools who have sent letters, but they didn’t offer.”
The early interest and offer put Duke ahead and the Blue Devils closed the deal on Saturday by getting Johnson on campus for a visit.
“When I got to campus I was thinking ‘Wow this is beautiful, and looks like a great academic school’. But, the thing that stood out the most was the way they care about the athlete’s career in the classroom, and the way they’re about family. That’s something I can be around forever.”
And so Johnson committed.
“The coaches were fired up and excited. We’re all ready to go. Everyone at Duke brought me into the family, and that makes me want to work even harder.”
So what kind of player are the Blue Devils getting in the 6-foot-1, 161 pounder? For starters, he’s productive. As a junior at West Florida High in Pensacola Johnson racked up 38 catches for 761 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also turned heads at Florida’s camp last summer where he clocked (a hand-timed) 4.28 forty yard dash. He’s also played on special teams and at safety for West Florida.
“I feel that my strengths are leading, and being able to think in tough situations. I also have a strong work ethic. Areas of improvements would be all over. If perfection is the key to being great, and so I can do and focus on all the small things. If I do that, everything will fall into place.”
Johnson traveled to Durham with his high school coach, Harry Lee who has been a principal figure in his development, and who was excited with the prospect’s decision to move forward.
“Coach Lee is on of my mentors and he was fired up. We both looked at this as a forty year year plan instead of a four year plan. He has always preached to me that it’s not all about football because at some point that will end. So the academic portion made him like the decision even more.”
“My mom is really proud and excited. She wants the best for me, and my dad is fired up too. This is all just a blessing.”
With it being such an early decision, it’s a fair question as to whether Johnson will continue to look around at other options which are likely to flow in. And it’s something he’s considered.
“The [Duke] recruitment was very professional. It wasn’t as if they were boasting or filling my head with promises. It was more about what they have to offer which is great academics and the chance to work hard. I’m sticking with Duke. They committed to me and I’m going to honor my commitment in return. I may go to a few more camps such as the Nike opening to get some more exposure.”