St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) defensive end Tyree Johnson has seen his recruitment skyrocket the last couple weeks. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder started the winter with a couple Division I offers, but now claims the likes of Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Va Tech, Pitt, Maryland, Kentucky, Wake Forest and more.
Even so, the D.C. product Johnson has the hometown school, whose staff anted up Jan. 28, firmly on his mind.
“Oh yeah, Maryland’s still pretty high for me, no doubt,” laughed Johnson. “I just had a great visit there [Feb. 13], and I’m looking forward to getting back up there, probably later this month. I just want to get back there again. I like it a lot over at Maryland right now.”
That Feb. 13 trip Johnson referred to was the so-called “DMV Day” in College Park, Md. Not technically a junior day, it was more like a large gathering of the elite prospects from Maryland and D.C., giving the new UMD staff an opportunity to make inroads with their main recruiting priorities.
“It was just a great visit overall. I liked the attitudes the coaches there are bringing to the team and program,” Johnson said. “There were a whole lot of recruits up there from our area, and everyone was talking about Maryland and the new staff. It was really good to hear and meet all the coaches.”
Of course, Johnson had already met his Terps’ position coach, Mike London, in addition to headman D.J. Durkin. Both, in addition to area-recruiter Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, have been regulars at St. John’s since Durkin’s ascension to head coach.
“Coach London and I had a good talk [Feb. 13]. He was telling me how important it is to stay home, and just giving me some drills to help me better my game,” Johnson said. “That was my first time really sitting down and talking to Coach London, and I think he’s a pretty cool dude and I like his attitude. I feel like with his knowledge of the game, he could help me a lot.
“And Coach Durkin is just a fired up guy. I liked him a lot. He was telling me about the program and then some of the educational aspects. [Durkin] was saying what every other coach was saying -- just how important it is to stay home and how he wants me to be part of his program.
“Then Coach Aazaar and Coach [Marcus] Berry, I knew both those guys from before [at their previous employers]. I have a pretty good relationship with them too. They’re all great coaches.”
The St. John’s recruit also had a chance to meet Maryland’s strength coach, Rick Court. Like the rest of the staff, Johnson couldn’t say enough about him.
“Coach Court is a fired up guy, just like Coach Durkin,” Johnson said. “He was telling me how they develop guys, and then he was going over his plan for helping the athletes get stronger. They have very detailed routines, and he’s also creating competition in the weight room to drive guys even harder. I feel like he could really help develop me and help me grow into a college defensive end.”
Beyond coach sitdowns, Johnson said he enjoyed touring the campus, taking in the UMD-Wisconsin basketball game, and trying on the Under Armour gear. Unlike many of the other DMV recruits in attendance, Johnson had yet to foray through College Park.
“I had no idea Maryland was that big,” Johnson said. “It was a beautiful campus and I really liked it. I liked the jerseys too. My favorites were the all-white ones with black numbers. Maryland’s got some pretty awesome uniforms.
“The basketball game was a great atmosphere too. The fans at Maryland are insane. I loved the game.”
Johnson may be hyped about the hometown school, but he’s not ready to end his recruitment anytime soon. Next up, he’s visiting Wake Forest Feb. 20 and Pitt Feb. 27. He’s unsure where he’s heading in March, but would like to see as many of his suitors as possible.
“I have to take some visits and just see what’s out there and what’s best for me,” Johnson said. “It’s a pretty exciting time right now, but at the same time it’s overwhelming. I really just have to get out there and see what these places are like.
“With all these schools coming at me, it’s going to take me awhile to go through everything. I probably won’t decide on a school until next winter, maybe next Signing Day.”