Roderick Johnson overwhelmed by the Big House

Hazelwood Central high school has produced one of the top '14 OL prospects in Roderick Johnson. The Missouri prepster has garnered attention from all over the country, and this past weekend he visited Michigan. GBW talked with him about the Big House, the coaches, and how important academics are to his parents.

Missouri is known as the "Show Me State," and Roderick Johnson and his family made a trip up to look at The University of Michigan to see what it was all about.

"It was a good visit," Johnson told GoBlueWolverine. "They seem to have good young men there, good facilities, and the Big House is off the charts -- I have never seen anything like that before. I took pictures down the tunnel and on the field -- what a great place."

Roderick's big 6'7 320 pounds coincides with his big fun personality, but he is young man that knows what he wants in a college with a coaching staff and players.

"I want a program where I will have a good relationship with the coaching staff and the players," he said. "You can't play for a stranger. There has to be some chemistry. And that is the reason for the visit, to get to know them better."

Having the chance to speak with the coaches gave him a different perspective from just seeing them on TV.

"Brady Hoke is a nice guy -- seeing him on TV jumping up and down in games to actually taking me in his office and talking to him eye to eye and shaking hands was nice. Coach Funk is a guy that doesn't beat around the bush -- he lets you know just how things are going to be. He told me if I come in and work hard then I would have an opportunity to play."

Roderick also wanted to talk to the man who turned down millions to come back to Michigan. He also chatted with one of Michigan's top recruits in the class of 2013.

"Taylor talked to me about tradition and how he enjoyed place. He told me he liked it so much that he decided to stay."

Roderick also had a chance to spend some time with Shane Morris, saying, "He is a real nice guy -- we just talked briefly, he really wasn't trying to recruit me, just talking about why he picked Michigan and that he likes it up there."

When Roderick and his family visited last week he had a nice up close view of spring practice and just the way Michigan gets after it out on the field.

"Those guys were flying around out on that field," he said. "The players worked hard. It was the kind of work that they put you through where you go home and fall out to sleep (laughing). The offensive line put in work -- they did drills, and had fun doing it too."

The style of offense for Johnson doesn't matter, but being physical and nasty is something that he craves.

"My style is just football. I like to do it all, I like it when we have two yards to go to get in to score. Your front five is made for that end zone -- you can just smell it. That is the time to get nasty."

There is a lot of pressure on recruits -- some allow it to get to their heads, others find way to keep it simple. For Roderick his parents make sure he keeps it simple.

"Recruiting can be tough -- the text messages and the phone calls. But I am enjoying the process. My parents keep me humble. I still take out the garbage and wash the dishes, I still know who the boss is around here (laughing). I just try and stay grounded and down to earth."

Academics first -- that is what you will hear most when speaking with Roderick and his parents. With both parents having college degrees it is important that their son takes it serious when looking at a school to attend.

"I would like to know where they are ranked for computer science degrees in the nation, and when I receive that degree how much weight does it carry for me getting a job."

His mom and dad go a little deeper into data that they would like to see -- not just with students but with the athletes that go to these colleges.

"Well academics will always be first," said Mrs. Johnson, "just for you to have something to fall back on. I would like to know the graduation rates for the football players."

Mr. Johnson wanted to know a little more concerning what is offered for his son. He used to play college football, and he doesn't want his son in a place where it is not important that he receives his degree.

"I want to know that not only the coaches but the school and the alumni find it very important to get these athletes their diplomas in college. It is important to me to find out what the minority graduation rate is for them, to receive a degree when they leave. Are there resources in place to help them in terms of if they have a learning disability -- not just to use them but really be concerned about education? It is critical that if you are a man or woman that they succeed in college -- if you can't make the grade then you shouldn't be able to play. If he gets hurt -- to make sure you help him get his degree. These are the things I look at, and not necessarily football."

One person that did impress Mr. Johnson was a professor in the engineering department that he had a chance to talk education with.

"Dr. Scott, a professor in engineering, and I had a great conversation, and he was very straight forward with me about academics. He talked about how engineering could lead to other opportunities for my son with that major."

Don't look for Roderick to make a quick fast decision, because there is still research to be done and he is still visiting colleges.

"Sometimes people commit early and then decommit," he said. "I will not be doing that, I want to take my time and be sure that it is the right school."

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