Will Muschamp and his staff promised Pendleton defensive end Brad Johnson they wouldn’t be outworked during his recruiting process. Living up to that promise has the Gamecocks in the mix for the fifth-ranked player in the state.
Johnson has offers from USC, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and others, but said one school in particular has made him a priority.
“With South Carolina they’ve definitely been the main school that’s recruited me the hardest, and the longest, too,” Johnson said. “That’s got a big impact on my recruitment.”
USC’s recruiting Johnson to play the Buck position, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot that his high school coach said would be a good fit for him.
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Johnson would play off the line of scrimmage on early downs, but would put his hand in the dirt and rush the quarterback in passing situations.
“That’s the combination everybody is looking for. He’s physical enough with his hands that he can play with his hand in the ground and come off the edge, but he also has the speed to play in space,” Pendleton coach Paul Sutherland said. “He’s the fastest player on our team. He’s been hand-timed at 4.53 in the 40. That’s what the entire staff said – he’s the perfect Buck.”
While South Carolina’s in a good spot with Johnson, he isn’t planning to make a commitment any time soon. The rising senior attended camp at USC earlier this month and has trips planned to several other schools this summer.
His plan is to have a decision made by the end of the year.
“He would like to take some official visits,” Sutherland said. “There’s going to be no drama at Pendleton High School. His word’s going to mean something and my word’s going to mean something. When we commit that’s going to mean something. We’re done with it.”
Johnson would like to play early. He’s also looking for a school with strong academics and a good football program.
“I want to get somewhere where I’m needed with my position and my skill set, somewhere where I fit in,” he said. “I want to try to come in and impact the team as much as I can as soon as I get there.”
Johnson feels like South Carolina would give him that chance.
“They had two seniors leave this year and they’ve got two or three linebacker seniors that are leaving this coming year,” he said. “They always talk about opportunity is there for me so all I’ve got to do is make the best out of the situation.”
The three-star prospect has offers from several prominent schools, but Clemson, which is only a few miles from his high school, has yet to offer.
He attended South Carolina and Clemson games as a kid and said growing up so close to Clemson wouldn’t hurt the Gamecocks’ chances.
“It would be different because around here everybody’s a Clemson fan,” he said. “Switching the boat and seeing what it’s like to be in Carolina territory with the Gamecocks, it would be interesting.”