Within a matter of months, Muskegon's Ronald Johnson has received offers from practically every major college in the country. The attention focused in the 6-1, 180-pounders direction has reached a fever pitch with coaches from numerous schools trying to one-up each other with frequent text messages. While all of their efforts certainly have been appreciated, Johnson indicated that he is more interested in the schools being genuine and real about what the opportunity they can offer him on the football field. Just as significant, though, will be the academic support available at his prospective college destinations.
"They really all offer the same thing when it comes to football," Johnson said. "I have to get to know all of the coaches. I need to know what their relationships are like with the kids on the field. I also have to figure out where they're going to use me. Some are saying they could use me on both sides of the ball. I'd love to play on both sides of the ball, but if I can't, I'll just stay at that primary position and do what I've got to do. One of the things I'm really looking at is how they are education wise. How much help I can get to stay eligible? It's as big as the on-the-field stuff for me. It's definitely one of the biggest factors. If I don't have the educational support that I'll need, I'm going to have to look at another school."
"I talked to Notre Dame and Michigan about the academic support," Johnson continued. "They talked about how tough they are on the kids and how much help they get. I went through the tour at Michigan. They've got the new (academic center). There are new computers, new rooms for kids to study in, and a lot of new technologies. It was impressive"
Johnson will utilize campus visits in the coming months to better sort through the differences between the schools on his list. Some of those trips will be for summer camps. The annual session in Ann Arbor proved to be beneficial last year and he hopes to make a return trip. "I got to know Coach English there last year," Johnson recalled. "He teaches you about the read steps, how to keep the defender in front of you, how to break on the ball better, and a number of other things. I'll probably go back as long as nothing comes up. I'm going to go to as many spring practices down there as I can too. I'm also going to go to Ohio State's camp. I'll probably just visit the schools down south."
Joining Johnson on some of those visits will be fellow in-state defensive back, Dionte Allen. The two standout prospects first met on the gridiron a few years back in the state championship game before getting to know each other better on various trips to Ann Arbor. They hope to be able to line up on the same defense in a few years.
"We'd like to be on the same team if we could," said Johnson. "We have some of the same interests besides Michigan. I know he likes Florida State a lot. I like them too so we'll visit there together. We talk to each other it seems like every other weekend. We talk about how much we like different colleges, but we aren't going to make any choices until after the season. We talk about what he like about the schools and what makes one better than the other…but just because he feels a certain way about a school doesn't mean I do. I wouldn't just go to a place because he is there."
For the time being, Johnson is focusing primarily on school and rehabbing his surgically repaired knee. Between studying and working out three times a day, he doesn't have much time to devote to recruiting. That, however, is not a problem since he won't be choosing a school anytime soon. "I'd say it will be at the end of my football season," Johnson said. "That's probably when I'll decide what I want to do. I'm going to take all five official visits. A lot of it will come down to if I can get my family out there to see me. I'm not saying distance is going to be a factor, but the problem I have with it is my mom is the only parent in the house. I basically did most of this for her and I want her to see me and see how everything turns out successfully for us."
Be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2.