The Maryland staff has identified most of its class of 2017 targets, and recently the Terps have been foraying into the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes. And on June 8, UMD assistant Pete Lembo became the first coach to offer rising junior Nolan Johnson, an emerging corner from Southwest Guilford High (High Point, N.C.).
Lembo trekked through North Carolina during the spring evaluation period, and after film study and recommendations from his connects in the region, he tossed a verbal Johnson’s way.
“It’s just a blessing. The offer really caught me off-guard,” said the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Johnson. “Pete Lembo started following me on Twitter a couple weeks ago after he was down there, but he really didn’t say anything to me. But then he told my coach he liked my film and would touch base later on. Then [June 8] I got pulled out of class and my coach told me I had my first offer.
“I was just in awe. I was waiting for one for so long, and it was a blessing. I was so honored, and it’s great that Maryland was my first offer.”
After Johnson’s coach informed him of said Maryland offer, the corner entered a three-way call with Lembo. The North Carolina product said he had a 15-minute conversation with UMD’s tight ends coach.
“Honestly, Coach Lembo didn’t talk too much about the offer. It was a really normal conversation, and I enjoyed it,” said Johnson, who holds a 3.8 GPA. “He did say he liked my size and athleticism, but the thing that struck me was when he said he’d heard a lot about me and had gotten recommendations about me from people in the community. He talked about my character and academics, which meant a lot.
“Then he said I should try to visit Maryland later this month, and I plan to be up there June 25. He didn’t say too much about the program, but it sounds like a great school.”
Johnson may not know much about UMD, but he has the basics down. He called the Terps “interesting” and a school he was definitely interested in considering it was his first offer.
“I know they have a new head coach, I know Stefon Diggs went there and I know it’s in the Big Ten,” Johnson said. “They have pretty sick uniforms too (laughs). I like the Under Armour unis a lot.”
The Terps aren’t the only program Johnson’s going to be checking out, however. He’ll be camping at NC State June 10, ECU June 11, UNC June 12 and Wake Forest June 15. He’s receiving interest from all three of those program, in addition to Purdue and Virginia Tech.
“I really want a UNC offer; that would be huge. I was at UNC in the spring and really liked it there,” Johnson said. “But growing up I was actually an SEC guy. Schools like Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi State – I liked all of them. I was at Georgia [in late May] and it was ridiculous. It was a great visit. So an offer from them, or any other SEC school, would be great.”
Johnson is coming off a season where he recorded 56 tackles, three picks, 11 breakups and a fumble recovery.