Tre Johnson was wide-eyed when he arrived from warm, sunny Florida to windy, fall weather of Champaign. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound The First Academy (Orlando) offensive tackle made his first official visit of the fall, taking in Illinois' 14-13 win over Nebraska on Saturday.
"You never know what to expect," Johnson said. "You never know what's going to happen. I'm just looking for where I could possibly fit in. Looking for a good group of people that I can run with and be a team with."
Illinois defensive line coach Mike Phair is leading the recruitment for Johnson, along with interim head coach Bill Cubit. Johnson witnessed the Illini's exciting, come-from-behind victory, its first over Nebraska since 1924.
"It went great," Johnson said. "I felt like they are a great team and it will be a great fit for me. It was amazing.
"I loved it. It's a good group of people, a good group of teammates. It's like one big, happy family right now."
Syracuse, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Louisville are recruiting Johnson as well.
Johnson said he plans a visit to East Carolina this upcoming weekend and also plans visits to Syracuse and Cincinnati later this fall.
What sticks out about Illinois and his first official visit?
"Really, the coaches," Johnson said. "The coaches consistently talk to me a lot. They always are asking about me and my family. They're concerned about me not only as a recruit but as a person."
Werner's take: Illinois has made Johnson -- who certainly looks the part -- a priority and he seems to have taken notice. Getting the first official visit is a good sign and winning an exciting game over a top-tier Big Ten program like Nebraska should only help. Johnson has a build similar to UI senior defensive end Jihad Ward, so he could transition to play strongside defensive end. Johnson plays defensive tackle in high school. Johnson doesn't have elite athleticism or burst and is a bit raw, but he has the raw size and strength that Illinois needs more of in the trenches. The Illini interim staff is trying to prove it can continue to build the program, and Johnson would give them another good future pieceon the line.