This past season for 2012 LB Jamaal Johnson you could've said played out like an inspirational movie for he and his Byrnes Rebels teammates. Some felt it was going to be a down year for the team that has dominated for the past decade in the AAAA ranks. Johnson and the Rebels knew otherwise and despite a tough start they finished the season with yet another AAAA Division 1 state championship.
Not long removed from winning a state championship with his team Johnson and his teammates haven't missed a beat in preparing for next season's run. Johnson who at 6'1 230 pounds lined up as a defensive end for the Rebels recently camped with the Clemson Tigers. He talked about his experience with the Tigers and how his off season has gone thus far with us this weekend.
"It has be great so far. I've been in the weight room a lot. That's what I'm preparing for my senior season, to get even stronger."
"Clemson's camp went really well. I worked out at defensive end. The coaches wanted me to stand up and play linebacker because there wasn't really an offensive lineman who could stop me because of my speed advantage at defensive end."
So what did the Tigers' coaches have to say about Johnson?
"Just that they want to see the transition I have from playing defensive end to linebacker. They want to see how it goes for me and will keep evaluating me."
Lining up as an end at the event Johnson saw plenty of reps against two of the state's top offensive lineman, one which is a familiar face and another one who wasn't.
"Some of the top guys I went up against down there were Patrick Destefano from Dorman who we play every year and Javarius Leamon from Woodruff High. There were a lot of other good offensive lineman there from out of state but I didn't know who they were."
With Clemson's staff informing him that they see him as a linebacker on the college level just how did Johnson take the assessment from the staff and others who are showing interest in him in making the switch from end to linebacker?
"I'm looking forward to the switch but I'm going to put more time into practicing and learning this summer so I can get more comfortable with the switch."
Johnson shared with us some other stops he plans on making this off season to help him improve with that transition.
"I'll be participating in the Shrine Bowl Combine, lineman challenge, and probably travel with the team to do the 7-on-7 camps."
Considering his junior season stats of 85 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery paired with tremendous strength and 4.6 speed we're banking that more and more college coaches will be swinging by Byrnes High School to check in on Johnson in the near future.