South Carolina was thought to have the upper hand for Pendleton defensive end Brad Johnson, but Virginia Tech has made a strong push for the Shrine Bowl South Carolina team defensive MVP, so his official visit with the Gamecocks this weekend will be crucial to keep him in the state.
Johnson made his official visit to Virginia Tech last month. Texas A&M and Mississippi State also are pushing for a visit, but Johnson isn’t expected to take one after going to Tennessee next weekend. Gamecocks and Hokie coaches met with Johnson on Thursday, and Tennessee is due in next week.
Johnson has made several visits to USC during the last year for junior days, practices and games, so he’s hoping to look deeper into the program this weekend.
“Every visit has been kind of rushed: Go down for a game and come back, go down for a workout and come back,” said Pendleton coach Paul Sutherland. “This will be the first time he’s been able to go down there, him and his mom, and they’ll be able to take their time and really get a good luck at it. He’s not really been down there overnight. I really believe this trip will go a long way toward him making his mind up. He’s really looking forward to seeing the campus life. Nobody has recruited him any harder, but he does want to see the campus side of it and the student side of it.”
Sutherland said Johnson will make a decision after the Tennessee visit, and there will be no fanfare around his announcement.
“It will pretty much be low key,” he said. “Him and his mom will let me know and then we’ll thank every school involved. We’re not looking for any grand show. We don’t operate that way around here, and Brad is not that kind of kid.”
Johnson hadn’t planned to take this long in the process, but his mother had surgery last summer and that prevented him from getting out to see some places and thus delayed his decision.