Mandeville (La.) outside linebacker Johnathan Picone, an early enrollee, signed a financial agreement with Texas Tech last Tuesday, and is one of four Class of 2016 Red Raider pledges who will be enrolling early.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound prospect never had any doubts about his commitment to Texas Tech.
"Honestly, I've been waiting to sign for a little while. I'm really excited about officially being a Red Raider now, and not having to worry about this recruiting process. It feels good to have this all finished and I feel like I made the right choice. I'm really excited to get out to Lubbock soon."
The defender's whole family will be moving him in on January 15, and he is ready to make it to campus.
"I'm not really bringing too much with me. I'm really just bringing myself and a couple clothes, just going up there and getting ready to start practicing, as soon as I can."
Picone sprained his MCL in the Louisiana 5A quarterfinals matchup against Landry-Walker, but it would appear to be on the mend.
"My leg's great, it's almost a hundred percent. It'll be a hundred percent before I move in. I'm running."
The talented Bayou State prospect has yet to decide on a major, but has some choices narrowed down.
"I'm looking at clinical kinesiology and sports management. I'm just gonna start taking some of my core classes. I'm still waiting to meet with academic advisors before I really narrow down what I want to study, so nothing is set in stone right now."
One fellow '16 pledge who signed early, quarterback Jett Duffey, will room with Picone this spring. The two have developed a bond.
"I already know that Jett is a competitor. He and I actually got off the phone earlier today, we're already getting pretty close. We'll be moving in together - he's going up on the 15th and I'll be going up on the 16th so we'll both be there right around the same time. We'll be rooming together. He seems like he stays out of trouble. He always seems like he's moving towards his goals, no matter what he's doing."
Picone is excited to be teammates with the talented quarterback.
"It's gonna be great, I'll be there to push him and he'll be there to push me and we'll both do our best to stay out of trouble. I'm really glad that he signed and that Texas Tech has a great, great quarterback both for their future and my future as a teammate."
After the spring, he'll swap out roommates when his linebacker buddies arrive next fall.
Stringer, who committed to Texas Tech back in May, is another '16 commit who is building a relationship with the Bayou State signee.
"Brayden and I are extremely close. Believe it or not we probably spend more time talking to each other than Kevin and I do, even though Kevin and I are obviously extremely close. Brayden is just a beast, honestly. He's just an absolute competitor. He doesn't really care how big you are, what your credentials are, what your resume says, he'll give you his best no matter what and usually have his way."
And again, Picone spoke about the benefits of fierce competition with his peers.
"I'm really excited to be around a guy like that because like I said earlier with Jett, he's gonna push me to be the best football player that I can possibly be. That's huge. We're coming to win a Big 12 championship at Texas Tech, so I'm very excited to be around a guy that's as goal-oriented as I am."
Coach David Gibbs improved the team's ranking in turnovers forced from 110th to 23rd in just one season. His first full class of defenders will have the chance to continue that progress.
"I'm more than excited, I'm absolutely ecstatic. Wherever he's been, his resume speaks for itself. He's turned any program around that he's had any kind of involvement with. He's been in the league, which is huge, he can really be successful at any level in coaching, and I'm just extremely excited to get to work with him. Also coach Spavital, I'm excited to work with him too because both of them are extremely knowledgeable. Coach Spav and I, we talk all the time - it's the same with coach Gibbs, I already really feel a connection with both of them."
Since he'll will technically be a freshman when he moves up to Lubbock and begins attending classes, this was one of Picone's final opportunities to speak to the media before the freshman media blackout begins. He had a message for Texas Tech fans first, though.
"I just want them to know that all the change that the program is going through right now is going to be for the best. We'll prove it when we get on the field this season. Everything's going to be a lot different. It seems like a lot of new faces are coming around the program, but I just want [the fans] to know it's all for the better and that we're gonna handle our business when it comes down to it."
Picone signed with Texas Tech over offers from Louisiana Tech, Air Force, Army, Southern Miss, Toledo, Troy, and Louisiana-Monroe.