Unofficial visits and junior days are essential in the recruiting process to educate players on the programs pursuing them. However, official visits are when it all comes together.
Brandon Johnson saw another side of his future home of Tennessee over the weekend.
“I got to look at the campus from a different perspective,” Johnson told InsideTennessee. “I never really got to hang out with the players as much as I did this trip around. It was kind of cool to see how they operate, how they live on a daily basis. It was kind of cool.
“Usually when I come, I’m with my parents, with the coaches, looking around, but I really got a different view this time.
“I got to meet a lot of guys that I’ll be playing with next year. I got to meet (Tennessee quarterback) Josh Dobbs. I met a whole slew of players. So, that was really exciting.”
Two freshmen were the Scout three-star prospect’s hosts as linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and wide receiver Vincent Perry educated Johnson on life in orange.
“Really, I already knew this was the place,” said Johnson, who played wide receiver at American Heritage (Fla.) School. “This was my official visit. I had never been on an official before, so it was kind of nice to take this visit.
“I got to ask a couple questions just how the life was living on a day-to-day basis and things like that.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder understands that receivers such as Alton Howard, Johnathon Johnson, Marquez North and Von Pearson have moved on. Vols assistant coach Zach Azzanni needs capable weapons to point to come fall.
“Really, they just need me to get ready,” Johnson said. “I’m going to hit the weights hard this summer. Just getting ready because they’re kind of thin at the receiver position right now. I’m trying to come in ready, trying to make an impact as soon as possible.”
The Plantation, Florida, resident made it to Knoxville on Oct. 10 to see the Big Orange host Georgia and rally from a 21-point deficit to win 38-31 in front of 102,455.
“I had never been to a Tennessee game before. I had never been to a college game before like that, period. It was just an amazing game, amazing atmosphere, crowd was jumping, just everybody was so into it. It was amazing,” said Johnson, who ranks by Scout as the No. 98 receiver in the 2016 class and No. 18 in the Sunshine State.
The Vols finished ranked in the top 25 after going 9-4 with a 45-6 Outback Bowl win over then-No. 13 Northwestern.
Johnson’s future college plans involve nothing other than Tennessee.
“Nah, no more visits,” said Johnson, whose favorite uniform number is three but that’s occupied by Josh Malone. “Really now I’m playing basketball, but after that working out, getting ready to go up to Tennessee.”
Johnson was teammates in 2013 and 2014 with former Tennessee target and now-Ohio State wide receiver Torrance Gibson.
“I mean he always told me he really liked it up here,” said Johnson, who pledged to Tennessee on Sept. 2. “I don’t know why he decided to go to Ohio State. I don’t know why. But, every time he came he always told me he had a great time, he loved it up here.”
American Heritage eliminated Fort Pierce Westwood 43-0 before seeing its season come to a close with a 27-20 loss to Hallandale in the second round of 2015 FHSAA Class 5A state playoffs on Nov. 20. The Patriots lost four fumbles in the game and the winning score came with 27 seconds to play. That ended a bid to win a third straight 5A crown.
Johnson does not yet know who his roommate in Knoxville will be. He plans to arrive in June and be an Architecture & Design major.