Getting to Know UM's newest commitment

The Hurricanes landed a big commitment from four-star offensive line prospect Jermaine Johnson on Tuesday night. Who is he? What does he bring to the table? What's his background like? CanesTime.com has all of those answers and some funny stories Johnson shares.

Jermaine Johnson is Miami's newest commitment. While that part is definitely known, the uncertain part of whether Johnson will enroll at the school in January or in August. He's waiting on the NCAA Clearinghouse to tell him that much.

Lets get to know Johnson a little better since information on him and his recruitment has been somewhat limited.

"I actually grew up playing basketball," Johnson said. "That's what I did growing up and that's what I thought I always wanted to do. Then in the spring before my senior season, the football coaches asked me to come out to play football. I gave it a try and started to really like it."

Johnson was a little further behind from a technical standpoint at that time but he credits his coaches for his development.

"We had great coaches at St. Thomas and they helped me a lot," he said. "I was able to go out and have a good year. I had only played one year of football and I was already getting scholarships to play football in college. It was crazy."

When you're 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, and you have long arms and quick feet like Johnson, that's not too uncommon.

"I looked at Mississippi State some but I signed with Auburn," he said. "I wasn't able to enroll there in the fall so I ended up going to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia."

That's where the stories began. To save time, I'll give a short version.

"First off, let me tell you, Hargrave was great for me. Since I had only played one year at St. Thomas, I went there not really knowing a whole lot about how to play on the offensive line. I'll tell you how I learned -- by going up against guys like Quinton Coples and Leon Mackey every day. Those guys were great players, great pass rushers, and I learned a lot just by going up against them a lot. My feet got better and I learned how to use my hands and how to position and work my feet better. The challenges those guys gave me helped make me the lineman I am today. From that standpoint, it was great. But, on the otherhand, the 'Grave is a different place. It's out in the middle of nowhere, pretty much. I remember one day me and a couple guys were walking out to the practice field at night. It was pitch black dark and we heard something moving around in the bushes. When we saw that it was a bear, we ran like we never ran before. I think I'm a pretty fast guy for someone my size. I can run a 5.0. I'm telling you, that night, I ran a 4.5. It was crazy. We have a lot of great memories from that place and it was a great experience for us."

Johnson played right tackle in high school but says he's willing and capable of playing anywhere along the line.

"I'm not one of these kids that say they're a left tackle or a right guard or anything like that," he said. "It doesn't matter to me -- left tackle, right guard, center, I don't give a damn. I just like playing and I wanna be out there doing it. I played all over the line at Hargrave so I got the experience of playing all the different positions. The thing about playing more than one position is that I got more confident in my game. So when I get to Miami, it doesn't really matter where they put me. I'll accept the challenge and get to work learning what I need to do."

After playing the 2007 season at Hargrave, Johnson sat out this season while he focused on getting his grades right.

"It was real tough not being able to play this season," he said. "I wasn't liking it at all. But I was able to stay in shape pretty good. My weight right now is 308 and that's about where I wanted it to be so that's good."

When Johnson took his official visit to Miami this past weekend, he had a chance to spend a lot of time with the other two visitors on campus -- Brandon Washington and William Campbell.

"Those guys are straight," he said. "They're both huge. Brandon had the same thing happen to him with having to go to a prep school. He said he went to Milford. He didn't like it there either but like we were saying to each other, to make it to the league, you gotta do anything it takes. For us, we didn't wanna go there but we went, learned from it, enjoyed our experience, and now it's time to move on and start getting ready for the next part of our lives. I like Brandon, he seems cool. He's from Miami so the visit wasn't real different to him but it was for William Campbell. I was talking to him about it and he was saying how much different Miami is from Michigan. We were out on South Beach and he kept saying that he hadn't seen anything like that before. He said he didn't know Miami was like that. We were kinda worried that it might get boring since the exams are over and there weren't many people around but that's Miami. You can have fun at any time of the year. I hope Big Will comes. He told me he had a great time and I hope he liked it enough to come back down to go school here with us."

Johnson is excited about the future of the Miami program.

"I think Coach Shannon's doing a great job," he said. "They were real young this year and they'll be a lot better next year. They got a lot of good players at other positions and that's why they're bringing in a lot of linemen now. They're trying to get another kid I knew, Bobby Massie. The high school team at Hargrave played against his team when I was there. I'd love to see him come down too. I know there are great things ahead for Miami and I'm real excited that I'm gonna be a part of it all."


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