SAN ANTONIO - Greg Johnson wasn’t a stranger to Notre Dame when he set foot on campus last month.
Over the course of the last couple years, Johnson had visited South Bend when his 7-on-7 club made trips to the Midwest. Getting back to campus for an official visit helped refresh the four-star athlete from Los Angeles on the things he’d seen before while also providing more depth.
Getting Johnson to campus again helped the Irish maintain a spot in the running. Johnson made the trip shortly after formally de-committing from Arizona.
“Notre Dame is just as equal as every school,” Johnson said. “When I went up there on my official, I talked more with the coaches and everything like that. They’re really high on academics. They take school very seriously. That’s what I look for in choosing a school.”
Johnson visited for The Echoes, the postseason awards show, along with several other targets and current commitments.
Defensive backs coach Todd Lyght stepped forward to fill the 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect in more about what the Irish have to offer. That’s also a window into another factor — Notre Dame sees Johnson as a defensive back at the next level.
“When I had went the first couple times I wasn’t able to really sit down with coach Lyght,” Johnson said. “During my official, I got a chance to sit down with him and talk about how much the scholarship is worth and things like that. Basically, what they look for and what they wanna do the next couple years in recruiting and things like that.”
Now it’s a matter of trying to edge in front of four other programs.
Johnson listed Nebraska, USC, Arizona State and Cal as the other contenders heading into final stretch before National Signing Day. Nebraska and Notre Dame have already hosted official visits.
Arizona State, USC and Cal can all expect to get official visits during the final three weekends in January. Johnson sees himself announcing a decision on signing day.
“I just wanna build a relationship with the whole staff at whatever school I choose,” Johnson said. “I wanna choose a school I feel comfortable at and a school where they help their players academically, a school where I could contribute early.”
Some things have changed in recent weeks with a couple contenders — USC and Nebraska.
USC scored a commitment from Johnson’s younger brother Marcus, a four-star cornerback in the Class of 2018. The elder Johnson says that hasn’t changed the way he looks at the Trojans, but it’s given the hometown program a little more juice in chasing him.
“Not really,” Johnson said. “But when he committed to the school, they think they can come after me more since he committed. I feel like everything has kinda been the same though. I’ll still be hearing from the coaches every chance they get and things like that.”
Nebraska, on the other hand, hired defensive backs coach Donte Williams away from Arizona to fill the same position. Johnson had originally committed to Williams.
Although Nebraska has been recruiting Johnson all along, there’s speculation the Huskers could surge into the lead with Williams on board.
“Things haven’t really changed,” Johnson said. “Before he was there they were still recruiting me hard. They were still trying to get me there. I feel like a lot of people think since he took the job there it’s like a no brainer that I would go there. I don’t think that because other schools are still a factor. I’m not gonna rush anything. I’m gonna take everything one step at a time.”
Come National Signing Day, just how important those factors were will become clear.