Texas freshman Herman Johnson gave LSU one of its biggest signees ever (in more ways than one) when he inked his name to a letter of intent last February. Although Johnson had ties to Louisiana after being born in Monroe, he wasn't a lock for the Tigers during the recruiting process.
"It came down to OU and LSU, but when I went to Oklahoma on my visit I really didn't feel at home," Johnson said. "I really felt uncomfortable and out of place."
Or maybe a national had something to do with it? When the Tigers captured the BCS National Title last January defeating the Oklahoma Sooners, Johnson was still up in the air about where he wanted to go to school.
But maybe an early childhood experience had something to do with Johnson's fate. A story in the Monroe News-Star last year told the story of how the doctor that delivered Johnson, who is the state record baby weighing over 15 pounds, offered the big fella some advice on the day he was born. The doctor said he leaned down to Johnson's ear and said ‘LSU.'"
"I heard it from the doctor himself," Johnson said. "We went out to eat a while back and did an interview in a local newspaper in Monroe and he was kind of telling me all the things about when I was born and stuff."
Johnson actually said he knew it was to be LSU when he first visited the campus and met the coaches and players.
Herman Johnson has yet to practice with the LSU Tigers. He was hospitalized last week suffering from an infection in his left leg brought on from an insect bite. (Photo by MJBrown)
"I pretty much got along with the coaches and players and establishing relationships with my teammates and getting along with all of them," Johnson said.
At 6-7 and 400 pounds, Johnson was the biggest recruit in the history of LSU football. And when he arrived on campus in mid July, he was one big guy weighing in at a reported 411 pounds. Badly overweight and out of shape, LSU strength coach Tommy Moffitt got Johnson headed down the straight and narrow with a workout and conditioning program. In a matter of weeks, Johnson shed 40 pounds and was a trim 371 pounds on media day.
"It was basically up to me, myself," Johnson said. "I was on a diet and had to keep up with that, run everyday and the weight just fell off."
But as fall camp neared, Johnson was met with an obstacle he is still trying to overcome. An insect bite that he incurred before leaving Texas for LSU grew into an infection on his leg.
"I was helping my mom move and I spent most of the time outside helping put the stuff in the truck," Johnson said. "I looked down at my leg and I had like a couple of bumps so I didn't really expect anything so I just put some Neosporin and stuff on it to see if it would go away. The pain and stuff went away, but when I got here a couple of Saturday's ago I looked down at my leg and it was totally swollen."
Johnson has yet to practice with the team and even spent a couple of nights in the hospital just for precautionary measures. He said it is frustrating to see his teammates out practicing while he is hobbling around on crutches.
"Everyday I am just sitting there looking through my playbook while all my other teammates are going out to practice," Johnson said. "It is annoying sometimes. I really don't like it."