A junior college linebacker from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd, Johnson has an official visit set for the weekend of Jan. 16 and expects it to be the end of his recruitment.
“It’s pretty simple,” Johnson told Scarlet Report. “I think Rutgers is where I’m going to go. I’m visiting down on Martin Luther King Day."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound middle linebacker helped SFCC to a championship appearance in his second season. He chooses Rutgers after officially visiting Illinois in the fall and offers from Purdue and Cal Poly. Iowa also scouted Johnson after the season’s end.
“It was kind of a crazy year,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t really getting too much exposure, but then I had a really strong senior season. All of a sudden, these schools started to come out for me. They’d watch me practice or come to games, and I guess Rutgers liked me a lot.”
Johnson said linebackers coach Bob Fraser saw him multiple times before he offered and invited him on an official visit.
“Coach Fraser seems like a good coach,” Johnson said. “One of the things that stuck out to me was that he’s been coaching linebackers for a long time. He worked in the NFL. I like coaches who are confident. I’m confident in myself, and I like coaches that are the same.”
Johnson has never been to New Jersey, and is admittedly unfamiliar with Rutgers football.
“I’m new to them, that’s true,” he said. “I know they’re in the Big Ten. I know some of the teams they play. It’s a tough schedule. The coaches told me a little about the program and their school. That’s about as much as I know.”
Johnson qualified out of high school as a running back, but chose the junior college route and linebacker position in search of more exposure.
“It helped me a lot mentally,” Johnson said. “In high school, I only played linebacker during my senior season. I was mostly a running back, so I had a lot to learn. I feel that I got the coaching I needed and linebacker is a great fit for me.”
Junior L.J. Liston worked as Snyder’s primary back in 2014 with weakside linebacker Steve Longa as a candidate to return inside. The three linebacker spots likely come down to personnel available and how spring additions look in practice.
“You have to look at everybody in that position group and who are the best three guys to get on the field and how we’re going to get them on the field,” said coach Kyle Flood last week on replacing Snyder as a starter.