Sep. 1 used to mark the day that juniors in high school were able to pick up their first written scholarship offers.
Thanks to a rule change college coaches are now back to offering only a verbal word to their targets of interest on the date.
No matter, the day turned out big for Les Miles and his staff.
“I called (wide receivers) coach Billy Gonzales just to wish him some good luck for this weekend, because I know they are excited to get over to Atlanta against North Carolina and show off how much hard work they have put in,” Johnson said. “Once we got on the phone I started thinking about committing, and then I couldn’t hold back. I told coach Gonzales right then that I was on board.”
At his weekly Wednesday radio show, Miles didn’t pick up the good news until later in the evening.
“Pretty much all of them were going crazy,” Johnson said. “ Coach Miles was short of breath and talking real fast. He said it was the best news he had heard in a while. He was just so, so excited. And like he said at the end of the call, they can add another person from my family into theirs. It’s just a great day.”
The other member of the family: older brother Patrick Peterson.
“To follow in his footsteps is something I have always wanted to do,” said Johnson, who also held offers from Alabama, Miami, Florida, Florida State and others. “There were other schools that really came onto me over the summer and wanted me to check them out, but it was always LSU. I seriously never even thought about going anywhere else. That’s what made the decision today so easy.
“It wasn’t something that I ever had to debate.”
No stranger to Baton Rouge, Johnson spent his freshman year at Redemptorist High where he played alongside current LSU commitments La’el Collins and Jeremy Hill. Upon hearing the news of Johnson’s commitment, Collins called the pick-up “one of the biggest that LSU will have for 2012.”
“He’s just an athlete, and he can play on the college level at wide receiver or cornerback,” Collins said. “These next years at LSU are truly about to be the greatest. The talent coming in can’t be denied.”
For the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Johnson, focus over these next two seasons will be on fine-tuning his receiver skills as he continues his quest to become one of the top underclassmen in all of high school football – regardless of position.
“I would love to do it all, but I have to make a decision for college and it will be to play wide receiver,” Johnson said. “That’s the position I am most excited about being at, and I also feel I can have a lot of success there. The coaches worked with me at the LSU camp this summer and they really loved where I was at.”
With the pledge Johnson becomes LSU’s first commitment for 2012 - and the Pompano Beach, Fla. native couldn’t be happier.
“I just looked on the web and saw that nobody else had even jumped on board yet,” he said. “I take pride in that. I want to be the one who gets the dominos falling. I want this class to be even better than the 2011 group, and I’m going to be out there talking up LSU to make it happen.”
A year and a half removed from the day he must put the pen to paper, Johnson said he is confident that he won’t sway from the decision.
“There isn’t any other school I would want to be a part of,” he said. “I literally sit around class and dream of playing in front of 90,000 people and wearing purple and gold out of that tunnel.”