The first game of the season wasn’t much of a chore for Rahyme Johnson. A huge lead at halftime had him playing cheerleader on the bench for the second half. Still, he was able to make an impression in the first series of the game that left the opposition searching for somewhere else to run.
“I did well,” Johnson said of his first game last Friday. “I didn’t really see that much action. It was 55-0 at half. By the second half I was on the sideline with a hat and some glasses on. I think I had four tackles and one big hit, the quarterback rolled out and I blasted him. They didn’t run to my side after that.
“That was like the third play of the game and after that they never ran back to my side, so I didn’t get much action.”
The prospects for the season are pretty high for Johnson and his team.
“It’s looking great,” he said about the outlook. “We have a great shot at going undefeated. We have a big game coming up this Friday. We’re playing Calabasas.”
At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Johnson is a terrific athlete that plays anywhere from defensive end to linebacker to even cornerback for Bishop Mora Salesian, he says they use him in man to man coverage as a corner. That is what has coaches from everywhere looking at him.
Johnson says he will continue his look at these schools during the fall when he makes a few trips for visits.
“It really starts on my bye week, October 3,” he said. “My first official will be at Nebraska, I won’t be taking any officials before that.
“I’ll be back in Gainesville on October 8 and Texas A&M November 24, when they play Ole Miss I believe. I have two more I am looking to set.”
He isn’t limiting himself to those programs, they are just the schools he has visits set up for.
“UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Oregon just got involved, Clemson, Louisville, and a few others are involved,” he said. “No top 10 right now, but if I do make one it will probably be during my bye week.”
Johnson talked about the three schools he will be visiting in the fall.
Nebraska: “I’ve been there so I’m looking for game atmosphere. I’ve been there but its more about getting my mom out there to see it. I’ve already seen what I need to see. I like everything, the fans, the school, and the people in general.”
Texas A&M: “I haven’t been there. I want to talk to some students, not just football players, but students and see how they like it. I want to see what it’s like on game day and learn more about the school because I don’t know anything about it.
Florida: “I’m not sure if that will be an official or unofficial, but I will definitely be there on October 8. Like just the chance to play big time football and the fact that one of the biggest schools out there is interested in me is really intriguing. The atmosphere out there and the fan base are crazy. Getting to play in The Swamp in front of all those people would be amazing. And, I would get a good education.
“It’s just way different from Cali, it’s just the vibe out there.”
Florida was actually one of the last schools Johnson visited when he showed up on campus for Friday Night Lights, the Gators premier football camp for college bound prospects. There he was coached up by linebacker coach Randy Shannon and was impressed.
“He’s a great coach,” Johnson said of Shannon. “I got to work with him a little bit and I love working with him.”
Florida has stayed on Johnson and head coach Jim McElwain and California recruiter Tim Skipper remain constantly in touch with the all-star linebacker.
“I talk to Coach Mac and Coach Skip the most,” Johnson said. “Coach Mac hits me up almost every day. He says the Gators would love to have me out there and I could really help them out. Coach Skip says a lot of the same things and he’s looking to get me back out there, so I will be out there October 8.
Any decision could come at the end of the season, early January, or even as late as signing day. Johnson knows what he is looking for.
“It will come down to playing and atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t want to be somewhere that I am stuck, somewhere that I don’t like. I want to go somewhere I am comfortable for four years and then my chance to get on the field.”
Florida is still trying to recover from low linebacker numbers in recent years in recruiting. Johnson is a huge part of the picture Florida would like to complete on signing day 2017.