Wolfpack Chasing Vols For Johnson

Pack Pride checks in with four-star Clayton (NC) Cleveland defensive tackle Sterling Johnson.

Clayton (NC) Cleveland defensive tackle Sterling Johnson has emerged as one of the state's most highly recruited prospects. The junior lineman has amassed a who's who of scholarship offers including NC State, UNC, Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame among others.

At 6-5, 270 pounds Johnson has the frame and long arms that coaches love. He moves well given his size although it's not impossible that Johnson may be best suited along the offensive line.

NC State, however, sees Johnson on defense and have recruited him as hard as anyone. One of the positives for the Wolfpack is defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and they'll have to build on that relationship if they hope to overtake the SEC for his commitment.

"I feel like State's on a come-up right now," said Johnson. "I'm excited about the interest they have in me. They're not as high as my leader Tennessee is but I still have interest in them and I'm still going to give them a look.

"I'm going back over there sometime this summer for another visit. Coach Nielsen, Coach Huxtable and coach Doeren have been recruiting me, Coach Nielsen is real intense. That's one thing I noticed about him more than the other schools. He's kind of young and has that intensity and knows where the young guys are coming from. That's definitely a positive for State."

The Vols recently took the lead for Johnson and he talked about the factors that have put UT out front.

"With Tennessee, I like everything about them. Their program is on the rise. They lost three games by a field goal or less. Then, they're graduating three players at my position which will give me a better chance for early playing time."

Johnson has family ties to UNC and that's another school that could figure prominently down the road.

"The Tarheels are definitely headed in the right direction. Coach Fedora and the way he's used his players, their offense was really top notch.

"But then on the flip side the defense needs to step it up like the Butch Davis defense that they had because that defense- they were eight win teams but teams were only beating them 17-10 stuff like that- so with that being said, if they can get that same kind of defensive intensity and keep that offense they're going to be something to watch out for in the ACC."

So what about a top five?

"If I absolutely had to name a top five today it would be Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Florida State."

Although Johnson has a tentative top five today, there are plenty of visits on the horizon that could alter that list. 

"This summer I'll be going to Ole Miss, Texas, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, Alabama and Clemson."

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