At last Saturday’s Nike Football Training Combine in Baton Rouge, St. Paul’s Mickey Johnson drew most all of the chatter on the defensive side.
En route to earning MVP honors, Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 310-pounder with great speed and strength, ran over and around each offensive lineman that stepped in his way.
“I didn’t really expect that,” said Johnson of his ability to dominate the field. “I feel like I am just getting stronger and stronger as I get older.”
That’s certainly a scary thought for a high school rising senior that already squatted 725 pounds and benched 450 pounds. And after a junior campaign on the Northshore where Johnson made nearly 50 stops and recorded eight sacks, the nation’s No. 24 ranked defensive tackle expects the numbers to soar as a result of his offseason work.
College coaches are buying in.
So far Johnson has pulled in over 20 scholarship offers. For Tiger fans, the talk is a battle that looms between LSU and Alabama. According to Johnson, most of the chatter has no value.
“It’s all smoke,” he said. “I had even heard from some people that I was in Tuscaloosa and committed at A-Day. None of it is true. I haven’t really been talking with many people about what I am feeling. I am seeing everything and talking with everyone first.”
While Johnson could take his process into next February, the Covington native said that putting a timetable on his decision, at this point, would be irrelevant.
“I could commit whenever,” said Johnson of his decision. “I will do it as soon as I feel things are right. I don’t know when that will be. It could be this summer, or it could be anytime in the next year.”
The LSU staff, hoping to land Johnson’s commitment before the summer months end, made St. Paul’s one of their first stops on the recruiting trail during the evaluation period.
And to show their commitment to landing the three-star prospect, recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson sent defensive coordinator John Chavis, defensive line coach Brick Haley and defensive backs coach Ron Cooper, the area recruiter for the Northshore, all to Johnson’s school hallways.
“It was cool to see those guys there, and they spent a lot of time talking with my coaches,” Johnson said. “They told me that they would be back once I start spring practice, which begins on Monday. They are definitely putting in the work.”
For Johnson, the allure of playing in front of the hometown fans remains, perhaps the most valuable card the Tigers have to play in a recruitment stacked with powerhouse programs.
“Just being the home team and having won a national championship recently is attractive to me,” he said. “I definitely like LSU.”