The heart of any good defense usually begins where the ball is snapped, up front. It is where the first punches are thrown and where the tone is set. It is also where Covington (La.) St. Paul’s product Mickey Johnson has made a name for himself.
Last season while playing alongside Houston Bates, Johnson racked up 49 tackles and seven sacks to go along with 22 quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Playing alongside Bates, who will be suiting up for LSU, helped take some pressure off Johnson, but also helped him in other ways according to St. Paul’s head coach Ken Sears.
“Mickey faced a lot of double-teams but still was a wrecking ball out there for us and made a lot of plays,” Sears said. “Teams couldn’t double him up all the time, though, because of Houston, and Mickey played with more of a motor this year and I think some of that was because of Houston.”
Not only did Johnson’s successful junior campaign grant the 6-foot-1, 308-pounder first team All-District 7-5A honors, but it also garnered him some serious attention from colleges around the country. Aside from two early offers, Johnson claimed to also be getting looks from in-state favorite LSU as well as programs such as Michigan, Tulsa, UCLA, Stanford, and Michigan State among others.
"I'm just taking it day by day," Johnson said of his recruitment. "I have offers from Mississippi State and Tulane right now, but I'm waiting for more. I think Tulsa will be the next team to offer.”
"I'm excited about the offers and the chance at getting more, but I'm really trying to focus on my upcoming senior year and not so much where I'm going to college," Johnson added.
Although Johnson claims to have his eyes set on his senior year, he was given the opportunity to tour prospective universities over the past couple of years as he attended a retreat to LSU as a sophomore as well as games at LSU and Mississippi State as a junior. Those experiences left Johnson with something to think about including his time at LSU.
"I really had a good time at the LSU vs. UL-Lafayette game," Johnson admitted. "I enjoyed being on the field with the recruits before the game and then seeing all of the fans yelling from the stands."
The pregame festivities were not all that caught the attention of Johnson.
"I really like the coaching strategy of the LSU coaches," he said. "They run a good defense and its one I wouldn't mind being a part of."
In the meantime, Johnson will have to wait for more offers to arrive, including one from LSU. That will leave him more time to ponder what exactly it is he is looking for in a school.
"The environment on campus and in the community is important to me," Johnson concluded. "I want to see not just what's at school, but what there is to do around there. I'm looking to go to a place that feels like family."
Johnson will take in Mississippi State this weekend for junior day and he may attend LSU’s junior day next weekend. He said that one of LSU’s camps is one of his definite stops this summer as he sharpens his skills that already have impressed more than a few coaches.
“Mickey is quick off the ball and is real explosive,” Sears said. “His work ethic has helped him make great strides and he is a pretty strong guy out there that garners a lot of attention. It’s safe to say that he has a very bright future if he continues to work as hard as he’s worked.”