Pass rushers are high on Michigan’s 2016 priority list so it’s no surprise that Camden (N.J.) DE Ron Johnson Jr. caught the Wolverine’s attention recently. The three-star prospect describes himself as being “fast off the edge,” and has the statistics to back that description up. The 6-3, 235-pounder claims to have notched 84 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries last season. That was enough to earn him a scholarship offer from the Maize & Blue. It was an exciting development that was rendered more so by his memorable visit to Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.
“It was beautiful,” Johnson said regarding Michigan. “I loved it. The campus, the academic advisors… they were real cool. They showed me a lot of things that shocked me. The academic advisors were telling me about a huge alumni base and how you’ll basically how you’ll be set up for life if you go there. For example, let’s say you go to the league for like three or four years and then you come back to Michigan… a Michigan academic advisor has already set up a job for you, a place that you can work, get on your feet, and get your life together. That really surprised me and made me excited about Michigan.”
The surprising offerings didn’t stop there for the Garden State star. His preconceived notions about the Wolverine staff turned out to be off base as well.
“The coaches were real cool,” said Johnson. “It pretty much shocked me because I didn’t think it would be like that. I thought it would be pretty much uptight, but they’re real cool. They’re so down-to-earth, cool to chat with. I know they have good coaches if I go there and they are going to keep it real with me that’s another thing. I talked to the players and I know for a fact there will not be a switch up. I know how most schools recruit, a certain way and then they coach different, but it’s not that way at Michigan. I’m liking them a lot.”
Johnson acknowledged how easy it would have been to get carried away with emotion and commit to Jim Harbaugh, but that wasn’t in keeping with the recruiting plan he laid out prior to the trip.
“I just wanted to see how things were and come back to my parents,” he said. “I think I’m going to bust a move around either during the middle of my senior season or towards the end. I’m not really sure, I’m still checking out schools and I’m going to do the same for other schools. I’m really digging Michigan.”
“I really haven’t had any visits like Michigan, so right now since I haven’t visited anywhere, been there for days, and really looked into a program like I did Michigan I can’t just commit. That was a good opportunity but I want to look at some other schools the same way. But they’re pretty high because what I saw at Michigan I don’t know if I can see anywhere else.”
Johnson’s friend, teammate, and travel partner to Michigan Brad Hawkins was similarly impressed.
“Brad really liked it,” Johnson reported. “He was really excited about how Brian Cole got a lot of reps as a young guy and he is graduating early and early enrollee. That really opened his eyes. You’ve just got to come in and ball and the coaches are going to give you a shot whether you young or not. You just got to ball. Brad was pretty ecstatic about that because I know he is a baller and he is going to compete wherever he goes.”
Hawkins’ favorable view of the Wolverines made them look even better in Johnson’s eyes. The opportunity to be teammates again on the next level will be one of the many factors in his decision.
“We both agree on wanting to go to school together,” said Johnson. “I feel like I work better with Brad on my team.”
“It’s also going to come down to comfort and coaching stability, but I already know that Coach Harbaugh is going to be there a while, so I don’t have to worry about that.”