Preparing For Early Impact

Dontae Johnson had a huge season this past fall for The Pennington School (NJ), and now he has turned his focus to the future. Pack Pride checks in with the Wolfpack commitment.

Dontae Johnson had a huge season this past fall for The Pennington School in New Jersey, and now he has turned his focus to the future.

With National Signing Day upon us, it should come as no surprise that the 6-3, 180-pound prospect from the Garden State has been looking forward to his future at NC State for a while now.

This fall Johnson helped his squad to a 6-3 record and he put up some eye-popping numbers. On defense he recorded 65 tackles and seven interceptions, returning one of those picks for a touchdown. On offense he caught 65 passes for 643 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he also returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.

The Pack recruited Johnson as a safety, and if he is called upon to make an early contribution in Raleigh he expects to be ready.

"If me playing is the best thing for the team then I'm willing to help out," he said. "I'll step up and do what I have to do. If it's best for me to redshirt then I'm fine with that."

While some prospects are enjoying the recruiting process right up to the last minute, whether it's because they like the visits or the attention, Johnson is glad to see that it has come to an end.

"I'm really excited," he continued. "I can't wait for (Signing Day). I've been thinking about it this whole past week. Something I've been dreaming about is finally here. I can't wait.

"I've been talking to coach Reed and coach Swepson a lot recently. They're telling me to make sure I stay focused in school and finish the year strong. On the other hand, they want me to start getting ready. They want me in the weight room to start getting in shape for the season."

The recruiting battle for Johnson was heated, as schools like UConn, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Stanford and Virginia all offered and made serious pushes for the talented athlete. That said, when he made his decision in October there wasn't any drama in the ensuing weeks and months.

"Most schools actually respected my decision when I made it," Johnson recalled. "For me, it was just that NC State is an up-and-coming program. We have a great recruiting class coming in with myself and others. We've got some great commits coming in. It's a great program that's on the rise and I can't wait to be part of something special."

Johnson said he has not visited NC State lately but will be back in Raleigh for the Pack's spring game later this year.

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