Big OT Visits Illinois

The junior recruiting season is heating up quickly, and Illinois is hosting a number of key juniors, including a big offensive tackle from Missouri.

Illinois got a start on rebuilding the offensive line in the 2013 class, but they look to continue that project in 2014, and a bigtime prospect in Hazelwood Central's Roderick Johnson visited Saturday for the game against Nebraska.

Johnson, who stands at 6'7" tall and 310 pounds, got a good vibe from the Illinois coaches and enjoyed his experience overall.

"First they showed me a lot of love," he said. "It was a nice facility and the players were all hanging around and had a good relationship with the coaches too."

Illinois RB/ST coach Tim Salem primarily recruits the St. Louis area, and he's building the foundation of a good recruitment with Johnson already.

"Coach Salem and I have a good relationship going. We stay in contact pretty regularly," Johnson said. "He's not a coach that's recruiting me just to recruit me. He's a genuine guy and a great guy to be around."

Johnson visited for the Nebraska game and really liked the atmosphere in the Assembly Hall in the win.

"You could see that the student body is really involved in the sports program and really backs the team," he said.

Johnson's size makes him a natural fit at the right tackle position. He plays left tackle for Hazelwood Central. In college, it doesn't matter to Johnson. He just wants to play.

"I could really play either tackle position. It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I'm just hoping to play college football. Wherever the coach needs me to play, that's all that matters to me."

Johnson shouldn't have much doubt about playing at the next level. With offers from schools like Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Florida State, and Tennessee, he should have his pick when all is said and done.

But he already knows what will separate the programs as his recruitment moves forward.

"The academic programs, graduation rates. I look to see if it's a nice campus on and off the field. With the football program I look at the coaching staff and the relationship with the players and the legacy they're building."

Academics are going to be a high priority for Johnson. Not only does he plan to challenge himself on the football field, but also in the classroom.

"Academics definitely matter to me. I'd like to go into computer programming or computer science. I do a little web design and graphic design and things like that."

Johnson has already planned out much of his spring visit schedule, and with his spring break coming up, he'll take the opportunity to see a few of the more distant schools on his list.

"I'll be going to Missouri next weekend and I'm also in the process of trying to get to Michigan and Michigan State the week of the 18th," he said. "I'll be doing a few of the visits over my spring break."

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