"To be honest with you, that gave me great insight what the USC football program was like and after that I was very interested in USC," Johnson said.
Former USC tight end Alex Holmes has also given Johnson information about USC after the shirt Holmes was wearing caught Johnson's attention in a chance encounter.
"I saw this big guy walking through the airport wearing a "Pete Carroll for President" shirt and a huge ring on his finger," Johnson said as he laughed. "I figured he was from USC so I went over and asked if he played on the football team. We talked for a while and he told me a lot of good things about USC.
"He (Holmes) said the coaches at USC really care about the players," Johnson said. "They don't just care about what they do on the football field; they care about them as people. Kentucky is a long way from California so that's very important."
Johnson has the type of athleticism that permits him to play linebacker, but it's not completely out of the question that he could play another position in college. Johnson has the makings of a first-round draft pick at the defensive tackle position. He has an amazing burst, and he tracks from sideline to sideline. He also put up outstanding numbers against his competition as a junior as a running back.
As a junior, Johnson rushed for over 1,200 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns in just six games. Much of that yardage came in the last three games of the season when he switched to running back from fullback. He also made 173 tackles on defense and notes that he rarely played in the second half of games because his team was usually holding a big lead at intermission. Johnson's big game of the season came in the second round of the playoffs. On 28 carries, he rushed for 310 yards and two touchdowns, leading his team to the victory. He also added 17 tackles on defense.
Johnson said a few teams are recruiting him as running back and he's not sure what position he'll play in college.
"I'll decide what position I'll play in college based on how I do at each position in the fall," said Johnson. "I've gotten back down to 260 pounds and plan to play at 245-250 this season."
Johnson said USC is recruiting him mainly as a linebacker, but Carroll told him he's impressed his coaching staff as a running back. "Pete Carroll told me that Todd McNair is fond of me as a runner and said their offensive coaches are impressed with my ball handling skills and athleticism."
Johnson is clear he does not have a favorite and says that all schools are on the same level, but he's formed a favorable impression of Pete Carroll and Todd McNair, who is recruiting Johnson.
"Pete Carroll's real nice. He's a genuine guy and a good person," Johnson said. "Todd McNair's a real cool guy and I like him a lot. We talk about my interests and he tells me about the benefits USC has to offer."
Johnson has an impressive list of scholarship offers. Included in that list are USC, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Louisville, Virginia, Maryland, Clemson and Kentucky.
Johnson plans to take his time making his decision which college to attend and doesn't anticipate committing early. Johnson said he doesn't know enough about the schools he is interested in to form a list of favorites at this time.
Fort Campbell's spring practices begin soon and Johnson said there are a lot of coaches who have scheduled to meet him then.