Covington, La. defensive tackle Mickey Johnson played out his recruitment different than most Bayou State prospects, electing to take visits both during and after his senior season before ultimately deciding to stay in Louisiana for college.
“I just wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision,” he said. “I felt like I needed to see everything first, even if I felt a strong connection to everything over in Baton Rouge.”
Over the summer Johnson was invited by defensive line coach Brick Haley to attend the Les Miles Camp, which in turn led to an increased focus on the 6-foot-1, 310-pounder.
“At that point LSU was on me pretty hard about committing, but I was up front with them and said I wanted to wait until the end before I decided,” said Johnson. “After that they pretty much cooled off on pressing me. They brought me in for a visit in December and told me I had a spot then, but I still wasn’t ready.
“After I took visits this month I started to think on things, and I really just wanted to be sure that my spot didn’t go away because I waited too long. That’s why I decided that I would commit (Friday). I was confident in my decision for LSU, so I wanted to get it out there.”
With offers from close to 50 programs, Johnson ultimately chose the Tigers over Tennessee and Arkansas, a pair of Southeastern Conference programs that landed official visits over the past two weeks.
“I was very high on those schools and really like them both, I just saw more for me here in Louisiana,” said Johnson. “LSU’s academic program is one thing that helped push them over the top. The Cox Center and all of the help they provide is pretty neat. They have someone there on call for you all the time. You can tell they are dedicated to the players.
“I sat down with my parents and we talked it over and LSU made sense. Between the academic support and facilities and staff, it all fit. Earlier this week I decided that I was set on choosing them.”
Johnson dialed up head coach Les Miles on Friday morning to share the news.
“Coach Miles sounded excited to have me,” he said. “He said it was the right decision and that he’s happy to have a player like me stay home.
“Coach (Ron) Cooper did a good job recruiting me, and I have a great relationship with coach Brick (Haley) after working with him at camps these past couple of summers. I know that he’s a coach who can take me to that next level.
“From the conversations we’ve had in the past, I think I’m a guy who could step in and compete with the younger guys that they have on campus. Coach Haley should help me catch up to speed pretty quickly.”
After growing close with members of The Fam, Johnson said staying in Louisiana – with the recruits from the 2011 class – felt all the more comfortable.
“I wanted to make a decision that was right for me, but at the end of the day I was really cool with those guys, so that played a big part in the process,” he said. “They understood that I wanted to take my time with the process, but they also let me know that LSU was the spot to be.
“I have to give the group an A+ in terms of talent. The staff put together the best, and they are all great guys. I’m excited to now be a part of it.”
While academics were once in question, Johnson has since worked himself into good standing. According to St. Paul’s head coach Ken Sears, Johnson is on track to become fully qualified.
“He’s done a fantastic job with his academics,” said Sears. “He committed to our program and his academics, and it showed. We still have a second semester to go, but as of right now he’s on track. He made a real commitment to that and it paid off for him.”
What type of player did the Tigers pick up with Friday’s addition?
“Coach Miles and LSU got a great one, both on and off the field,” said Sears. “He’s got a lot of God given gifts, from his strength to his explosion. He’s a tremendous player with an even better work ethic.
“As long as he has been with us he’s been self critical. When you go into something with that attitude, you find ways to get better. Mickey is a player that’s always working on getting better. LSU fans will see they got a heck of a player.”