It wasn't Avery Johnson's first trip to Baton Rouge or even his first official visit to LSU.
But his visit this past weekend for the Tigers' game against Ole Miss went better than any other previous trip.
"I loved it. I loved every moment of it," Johnson said. "I didn't want to go home after the game."
Part of what made it special was that it served as one of the final steps before he finally achieves his goal of playing at LSU. It's been a long journey for Johnson that started early in his junior year of high school.
He became the first member of LSU's Class of 2012 when he announced his commitment in September 2010. He signed with the Tigers this past February, but did not qualify academically.
He enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy to get his grades straight, with hopes of enrolling at LSU in the spring. So once he finally received word that he had qualified, it served as a major relief.
"I was very excited about it because I didn't know if I was ever going to get to LSU," Johnson said. "I used to think about it everyday. It felt really good when I first got it. I ran down the hallway, yelling and screaming. That experience is over. I'm just ready to get started in January."
On Saturday, he got a glimpse of what he can expect once he suits up for LSU next season. His close friend Jeremy Hill served as his host, and Johnson said watching Hill succeed inspired him.
Like Johnson, Hill had to wait to enroll at LSU because of lingering legal issues.
"He told me he's playing with an attitude because he missed out on his first year," Johnson said. "He felt like someone took that away from him, so that's why he's playing like this. I'll feel the same way when I get there. I missed out on my freshman year, but I get to start all over."
Johnson only played two games for Hargrave, instead focusing on his schoolwork. He continued working out and said he'll quickly be back in playing shape.
"It's not going to take that long," Johnson said. "With my dad being a trainer, and my brother [former LSU star Patrick Peterson] helping me out. [LSU strength and conditioning coordinator Tommy] Moffitt told me to start running every day, and I'm going to start working on catching balls to get ready for college."
Johnson will move down to Baton Rouge on Jan. 11 and begin classes the following day. Once that day arrives, it will finally become real for Johnson.
He'll have finally achieved the goal he's had his eyes on more than two years. And though he's put in a lot of work to get to this point, he knows there's a lot left in front of him.
"I'm just going to compete everyday, because nothing is given in this world," Johnson said. "I'm going to start out at the bottom of the depth chart and hopefully work my way up. I'm going to work hard every day."
Johnson Ready to Get Started
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