Johnson Pledges To USC

South Carolina landed its first offensive line commitment in the 2008 recruiting class on Friday morning when Aynor (SC) standout T.J. Johnson pledged his verbal commitment to the home state Gamecocks in a local news conference. Read inside for all the details.

The 6'4", 275 pound Johnson actually gave his commitment to the South Carolina coaches earlier in the week, but he waited until Friday morning to announce his decision publicly. According to Johnson, he felt that USC was the right place for him based on several factors, including his comfort level with the Gamecock coaches and the opportunity to play for the home state school.

"I actually committed to South Carolina on Sunday. I knew that it was the place for me after the visits and talking with Coach (Steve) Spurrier," said Johnson. "I really had a lot of support when I got the offer from Carolina. I knew right away that they have great fan support. It's a close school. It's not too far from home. I like the fact that Coach Spurrier is a great coach, and Coach (John) Hunt and all those guys have had NFL experience. I feel like Carolina's a great school to possibly get me to the next level."

After only signing two offensive linemen in the 2007 class, the Gamecocks have made recruiting on the line a priority this year, and Johnson's commitment helps USC get off to a solid start in that department.

Johnson isn't yet sure of how he'll figure into USC's plans next fall, but after just recently turning seventeen, he wouldn't be surprised if a redshirt year is necessary to adjust to the college level.

"I don't know what position I'm going to play yet. Coach Hunt thinks I'm athletic enough to play anywhere on the line. I think he's thinking more of an interior guy, but he says I'm athletic enough to play tackle too. As far as redshirting, I‘m not positive, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to (redshirt) since I'm still only seventeen. I just turned seventeen, so I'm still young."

Johnson, who picked up his Gamecock offer last month after impressing the Carolina coaches at one of their summer camps, has already gotten to know Coach John Hunt, his future position coach at USC, and he is anxious to begin working with him next year.

"Coach Hunt is a great guy to be around. You can tell he's all about business, and I can't wait to play for him. I‘m looking forward to working under him and learning from him."

With his decision now out of the way, Johnson said that he is firm in his commitment to the Gamecocks, and he‘ll turn his attention towards his upcoming senior season.

Johnson, who benches 340 pounds and squats 465 pounds, closed by asking that we pass on the following message to the Gamecock Nation.

"I'm excited to be a Gamecock, and I can't wait to try and help the team win an SEC Championship."

Johnson becomes South Carolina's fifth commitment in the 2008 recruiting class. He chose the Gamecocks over offers from Kentucky, NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Duke and a few others.

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