Ole Miss and Florida State lead the pack in the race for Johnson, who holds additional offers from, among others, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Florida and South Carolina. In total, 20-plus schools have extended Johnson a scholarship.
“I’ve kind of been really close to Ole Miss and Florida State since January,” he said. “It’s kind of been a really hard decision to choose where I want to go to school because Ole Miss and Florida State are really my top schools.”
In Ole Miss’ favor is its proximity to home. The 6-foot-2 1/2, 325-pound Johnson is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 55 defensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class and the No. 2 prospect overall in Mississippi.
Johnson arrived at Ole Miss Friday for the Rebels' first summer recruiting camp.
“Right now, they’re close,” Johnson said of the Rebels. “They’re close to home. I haven’t really gotten to reach out to Mississippi State yet. I’ve been talking to their coaches on and off. On a regular basis, I talk to Ole Miss coaches a lot. I get to come up here a lot and interact with the coaches.
“I’ve been close, really, to all the coaches. They call and text my phone. I’ve got a relationship with (Ole Miss head) coach (Hugh) Freeze. We call and text a lot. Coach (Derrick) Nix and coach (Freddie) Roach, too.”
Johnson has been a regular visitor to Ole Miss over the last few months. He was in Oxford for one-on-one time with the Rebel coaching staff as recently as May.
“They haven’t just been connecting with me,” Johnson said of Freeze and staff. “They’ve been connecting with other family members like my mom and my sister. That brings me close.”
Johnson plans to trip to Tallahassee with his mom and sister this summer. He has thoughts of making his way to Mississippi State, too. The Bulldogs, like Ole Miss, “are close to home. I just really haven’t gotten time to get over there and stuff like that. I talk to their coaches on a daily basis, too.”
Florida State certainly has its advantages, including family in the area in the form of an aunt and cousins on his mother’s side.
“I mean, I like the atmosphere,” Johnson said. “I have family down there, too, so that kind of draws me down there, and kind of getting away from Mississippi. I’ve been in Mississippi all my life. I kind of want to get out and experience new stuff outside of the state.
“The difference is Tallahassee is far away. My mom loves Tallahassee, my family loves Tallahassee. Ole Miss is close to home. If I decide to stay home, I’ll probably go to Ole Miss. If I decide to (leave Mississippi), I’ll probably go to Tallahassee.”
Johnson could make his choice as early as this summer.
“I haven’t really thought of a timetable, but I said to myself I probably plan on committing somewhere either when the season starts or sometime this summer,” he said.