The big names keep knocking at the door of Portland (Ore.) Lincoln defensive lineman Ethan Johnson, but that hasn't stopped him from being surprised every time a new one shows up. The Michigan Wolverines were the latest to extend a scholarship offer, putting his tally firmly into double digits.
"(Michigan) had sent me letters, but (the offer) was pretty sudden," Johnson said. "I didn’t know they were coming. Coach English came to my school (Thursday) at around 3:30 and offered me a full scholarship."
Johnson may just now be learning of Michigan's interest in him, but he has long known about the prestige and tradition that the program carries with it.
"I’ve always had interest in Michigan," he said. "Michigan has always been good, and it has always been up there. Plus I hear that they have a pretty good business school, and that's what I want to major in."
It's clear that the offer by the Wolverines was enough to get them in the game for 6-4, 263-pounder, but with scholarships also on the table from programs like USC, Notre Dame, and Auburn… the contest is far from over.
"I haven’t narrowed it down enough to actually say what my favorites are," he said. "I think I’m going to start narrowing it down towards the end of the summer because I’m going to take some unofficial visits in the summer. Sure you have an idea of what you might like, but once you visit the place you might absolutely hate it. On the other hand, you might love it and jump that team all the way to the top."
With trips to Oregon, Oregon State, and USC under his belt, Johnson already has a good feel for a few programs on his list. He hopes to gain a similar appreciation for his other suitors by tripping to as many of their campuses as possible. That includes those outside of his region like Michigan and Notre Dame.
"I think I am going to camp at Notre Dame," Johnson said. "Other than that, I haven’t decided what camps I'm going to attend. I'd definitely like to go over to Michigan if I can get up there. It’s not that far away from Notre Dame. I don't know if that would be in time for camp though."
Johnson's time on each of the respective campuses will go a long way toward determining his ultimate destination. There are a number of key factors that will play into his final decision, but there is one that holds more significance than all of the rest.
"First of all, it's going to be an intangible thing… whether or not I feel comfortable there," Johnson explained. "That's going to be the main thing. The second thing is whether it’s a good business school. I want to study business, so it has to have a good business school. I want to feel like I have good academic support at the school so I can actually study business. At most schools you have to have something like a 3.0 to take business as a major. I’m not trying to get messed up and not be able to go into the major I want to take, so I really want good academic support. And I want to go to a good team. Michigan is a great team."
There are obviously other great teams on Johnson's list as well, which is why he is in no rush to make his decision. He'll continue to take a more deliberate approach to his recruitment unless some team just completely blows him away when he visits.
"Right now, I want to take my five official visits," he said. "That’s how I see it right now. But things change. If there is a team and I just love it there, and I feel like I’m at home there… that is what it would take for me to commit early. If that doesn’t happen with any school, then I’m just going to see every school and feel it out."
Though there have been a number of programs that have been on him for quit some time, Johnson made it clear that there is still time for others to get in as well. Will those schools be at a distinct disadvantage since they haven't had months to write letters and text message him regarding their interest?
"It depends on what you think recruiting is," Johnson opined. "I’m sure everyone has their own philosophy on how to get recruits to their school. I’m sure there are people that think getting tons of attention will get them to come to the school. Others think that a kid is going to make a decision based on how he feels and being who he is. I think a lot of schools key off of, 'we are just going to sit back let the kid relax… and that is what is going to make him come here.' Everyone has their own philosophy. Personally I think that once a school offers you, they really want you to come to their school. I mean, getting a bunch of letters is cool. They are nice to have, but I think in the end it’s going to come down to where I feel comfortable. That could be at a school that has sent me a thousand letters or at a school that has sent me one. If they want to send me thousands of letters, that’s fine. Who wouldn't like that? But it’s not going to be a main factor in my decision. Once you offer me, I understand that you really want me. At that point I am going to take a fair look at you."