For Johnson, it was a Friday to Sunday stay that marked the first official visit of his recruitment process. Back in Covington, Johnson gave the weekend two thumbs up.
“It exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I had a lot of fun, and it was the first chance I’ve had to see the academic side of everything. Spending some time with the players and coaches and then seeing the academic stuff was what the trip was all about.”
“Those guys showed me a lot of attention, and they brought me around to all the other guys and made sure I felt comfortable being a part of everything,” he said. “Graduation was going on and lots of people had already left town, so we spent most of our time at the dorms playing video games and hanging out.”
On Saturday, Johnson put on his best walking shoes and took in everything the LSU campus had to offer.
“I didn’t expect to be on my feet that much, but it was a great day,” he laughed. “I saw the Cox Center and the library and all the classrooms. I looked at some different departments and got a feel for what my courses would be like.
“It painted a really good picture for me. The campus was beautiful and they have a lot of things to offer that I didn’t know about before. It keeps LSU pretty high on my list.”
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound tackle was able to sit down with defensive line coach Brick Haley for a one-on-one film session, which resulted in the tables being turned in their player-coach relationship.
“Coach Haley put on the film and told me to coach him,” Johnson said. “I started going through everything I knew, and he was impressed. He said that I had a good mind for the game.
“As a player, he likes me because I can play the 3-technique or shade, and I can go on first down and fourth down. I look at a smaller defensive tackle like Drake Nevis and I want to model my game after him. He’s an animal.”
Johnson watched Nevis workout during the afternoon practice, and from there a run-in with strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt left him excited about what he could do as a member of the LSU program.
“Coach Moffitt is serious with how he runs things, and he said he’s going to love having me in his weight room,” said Johnson, who has maxed out at 500 pounds on the bench press. “With the motor that I have, he said they can turn me into a monster. I just have to keep up my conditioning, because I have the athleticism.”
Johnson ended his stay with breakfast with Miles, and from there the pair sat down for a meeting on where Johnson stood with his process. With two visits left, the nation’s No. 19 ranked defensive tackle said he’s closing in on a decision.
“I told coach Miles that I was going to be at Arkansas on Jan. 14 and then Tennessee on Jan. 21, and from there I will announce my decision,” he said. “I had planned to go somewhere the weekend before signing day, but I’ve got a power lifting tournament and can’t make it happen now.
“I don’t really want to wait until the very last minute anyhow, so I’ll announce the week after I take the visit to Tennessee. I want to make sure my paperwork will all be in and the coaches at each school know where I’m at before signing day.”
With three schools on his list, Johnson appears headed for the Southeastern Conference. What will separate one school from the rest as the next two visits come and go?
“I am mainly looking at my relationship with coaches and how they run their defensive scheme,” Johnson said. “For LSU, everything checks out. I just want to go see Tennessee and Arkansas before I decide.”