With the departure of All-American Andy Groom and the senior status of B.J. Sander, Ohio State will be looking for a new punter in 2004. Now that Greg Johnson has decided to transfer from Vanderbilt, the Buckeyes are hot on his heels. Greg handled the punting and placekicking duties admirably for the Commodores in 2002.
How well did this young man perform?
Buckeyes raved about Andy Groom who averaged 44.65 yards per punt on 4.15 attempts per game in 2002-03 to finish 4th in the nation in that category. He became a fan favorite for his consistency and the work that he did to ensure the Buckeyes always had an advantage when forced to give the ball back to the other team.
Greg Johnson – as a freshman – averaged 43.82 yards per punt on 5.5 attempts per game and finished 5th in the country. No other freshman placed in the top 16 in that category and only BYU and Tennessee had sophomore punters perform as well.
Given the importance the Ohio State coaches put on the kicking game and gaining the hidden yardage so often overlooked, it is a no-brainer that they (and fans in the Scarlet and Gray) might like Greg to play a starring role for the Buckeyes in the coming years.
In question and answer form, here is what Greg had to say when he spoke with Charles Babb earlier today.
When did you get back from your visit to Ohio State?
"I got back Saturday night around 7 o'clock…The visit went well. I got there, and of course they had the itinerary planned out. I took some tours and saw the business school in particular. That is the major that I want. All of that was really nice, so I was really happy that I came."
Ultimately, why are you leaving Vanderbilt?
"The thing that I am having trouble with is that Vanderbilt does not have an undergraduate business school. They do have a business school for grad students, but I would not have been here for 5 years to be ever able to take classes at it. So, I am leaving really because of that and also some personal reasons."
Some have said this was a football decision only. Is that true?
"No. I mean some think that there is this huge deciding factor, but that is really not the case. It is not one specific thing. It is definitely not football. I knew the football situation when I first signed with Vanderbilt. That is definitely not it. It is just a lot of little things. There is not actually a ‘big' thing that has caused it."
Who has offered you?
"I actually got an offer from Ohio State on my visit the last day. I received an offer from Kansas State in the mail the other day. I am going fly out to Texas later today, and they have not officially offered – but it is very likely they will when I go."
Have they told you they would?
Who have you visited besides Ohio State?
"I actually visited Texas A&M and got an offer from them."
Is there anyone you still want to visit?
"No - pretty much just those four. I want to keep this low-key. Those are really the four that I am interested in."
Do you plan on making a decision soon?
"Yes. Ohio State - the actual letter, the actual scholarship offer they gave me expires May 1st. So, I will make a decision before May 1st."
Do you have a favorite?
"It is difficult to say. I have not seen all the schools yet. Before I start ranking them I just want to see them all. I really liked Ohio State this weekend. They up toward the top – definitely."
What are you looking for – what will be the deciding factors?
1. "First, fulfilling the reason I am leaving Vandy – I want to make sure that they have a business school."
2. "Vanderbilt student-wise is pretty small. There are like 5,700-7,500 kids and that includes the grad students. I am looking for schools a little bit bigger. I want to meet people and fit in better."
3. "Of course, the football aspect; I want to meet players and make sure I fit in with them well.
"Those are the big things. I looked at the rosters from the different schools. I wasn't going to transfer if the team had a sophomore punter. What I am running into is a lot of teams had senior punters last year, and they have a senior punter who (was) a backup this year."
Is proximity to family important?
"My family is in Atlanta right now. I am usually able to see them a bunch, so it is not a big issue being in Nashville. That is a little bit of a factor but not a deciding factor. A lot of the teams I am looking at play on TV a lot. Really it is not a big issue that they can make the games, but my parents are really good about going to games. My parents did not miss a game last year."
Tell me about your season last year.
"I think I was 5th going into the bowl games in gross yardage and 4th in net yardage. I felt comfortable coming in after high school. I tried to stay focused and go out and play each game."
Who recruited you out of High School?
"I was not recruited heavily at all out of high school. I had an offer from Navy and Vanderbilt."
Tell me about your placekicking
"I was 8 of 13 and hit the post on a couple. Actually, my first collegiate kick hit the post. Generally, I feel good about place kicking, but I have to stay on top of it. I feel more natural as a punter but if people ask me or tell me they want me to placekick - I don't have any problem doing that."
When do you plan on reporting to the school you have chosen?
"I will probably just report in the fall with everybody else. I have talked to a lot of the coaches and pretty much all of them have said that is a good idea – just report in the fall."
Our thanks to Greg for speaking with us at Bucknuts. We will do our best to keep you updated as he nears a decision. Stay tuned…