The Terps offered DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) tackle Elijah Johnson April 24 and 10 days later he visited College Park, Md., with his father. It was Johnson’s first trip to UMD since the fall, and his dad’s initial glimpse at the program’s inner-workings.
“Oh, me and my dad really liked Maryland,” said the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Johnson, who holds offers from UMD, Wake Forest, WVU, Rutgers, Indiana, Temple, Uconn, UMass, ODU and others. “Just meeting Coach [Randy] Edsall, Coach [Greg] Studrawa, looking around the campus and getting more in-depth about Maryland, we both really enjoyed it.”
Johnson had visited Maryland about four or five times before, mainly to see his uncle, who works at the university. He’d also attended games in the past, and has actually played in Byrd Stadium before (DeMatha played its conference title game at Byrd).
“But this time was different, because I got to see all the new facilities they’re building and learn about the academics,” Johnson said. “I liked the new locker room, the new practice fields, the new weight room, the dorms – all that was really nice. And just talking about the academics and seeing how important [education] is there, that was big too.”
The DeMatha product heard plenty about those academics from Edsall. He said UMD’s headman harped on education throughout their discussion May 4.
“Coach Edsall kept talking about keeping your grades up and how he’s all about getting to class and making sure his guys graduate, which I liked a lot,” Johnson said. “He said he’s big on academics and personally checks progress reports every week to make sure guys are staying on-point. I like that kind of structure, and my dad loved that too. [My dad] was telling me afterwards, ‘Academics, academics, academics.’ He’s all about that, and I think that’s why he likes Maryland so much.”
Johnson took to the offensive line coach Studrawa as well. He did not have a chance to speak to his recruiter, Mike Locksley, who was not on campus that day, but noted that, “me and Coach Locks have a great relationship. We talk all the time anyway.”
“Coach Stud was really cool. He was pretty straightforward and honest with me, but he was funny as well. I liked him a lot,” Johnson said. “We were talking about how Maryland needs more tackles in the program and how he wants me to be one of them. It’s something I’m thinking about.”
Following the brief foray through College Park, Johnson said Maryland is firmly in the running for his services. Of course, he had already taken a liking to the school thanks to his teammates-turned-Terps commits’ (D.J. Turner and LoLo Harrison) overtures, while he’s heard plenty about the DMV-to-UMD movement as well.
“Staying home is something I’m thinking about. Maryland is a good option for me,” Johnson said. “I like the program a lot more than I did before this visit. I’m thinking about getting back up [to College Park] in the next couple months just to see it again and learn more.”
Johnson is not placing UMD, or any other program, among his “leaders” just yet, however. He said he still has visits to take and pros and cons to weigh before naming any kind of standout.
“I can’t say any leaders yet, but the schools talking to me the most are West Virginia, Temple, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College, Illinois and Indiana,” Johnson said. “Those teams are the ones saying they really want me.”
The DeMatha lineman does not have any future trips scheduled but plans to see Boston College sometime in May, along with several others this summer like Indiana, Illinois and Temple. He’s already taken in Rutgers, WVU (a presumed early standout) and Wake Forest.
Johnson has no intentions of ending his recruitment anytime soon.
“I could decide [on a school] before my senior season or after. I can’t say right now,” he said. “I’m just going through the process, and whenever I feel right about a school I’ll commit.”
Visit Improves Terps' Standing With Johnson
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