The decision comes on the heels of a weekend visit for the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Johnson, who was also considering Miami, Michigan State and Michigan. In the end, his decision to commit early came down to his strong relationships with Hokies assistants Torrain Gray and Aaron Moorehead, as well as the level of comfort he had with the team’s head coach, Frank Beamer, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Johnson is the second area cornerback to commit Virginia Tech in recent months; Friendship Collegiate‘s Ashton White committed to the school back in December.
“I was really comfortable there. I knew most of the coaches already,” Johnson said. “[Defensive backs coach] Torrian Gray, he’s coached a lot of good DB’s over the years that have gone to the NFL, and a lot of DB’s that have played at Woodson over the years…he’s a good coach. He’s going to play the best.”
Johnson, whose long frame and top-end speed made him a high-profile recruit during last summer’s combine and college camp circuits, was a key player in H.D. Woodson’s run to the DCIAA and DCSAA championship this season. He was challenged regularly by opposing quarterbacks, who mostly stayed away from throwing toward two-time All-Met cornerback D’Andre Payne. He came up with a key pick against Wilson during a regular season win, then burned the Tigers with another pivotal interception in the Turkey Bowl. Johnson became a regular contributor on the city’s best defense, which won held opponents to 8.8 points during a 10-game winning streak to close out the season.
Johnson cited Payne as a major influence on his decision to commit, and he has also benefited from learning under the tutelage of his father, longtime H.D. Woodson assistant Wayne Johnson. The elder Johnson has helped coach defensive backs at the Northeast school for over two decades, and in that time the Warriors have produced several major college football recruits. Current Washington Redskins wide receiver Joshua Morgan starred at cornerback for the school in 2003 before heading to Virginia Tech. Just in the last five years, the school has sent John Walker and Kenneth Crawley to Colorado’s secondary, and Payne enrolled at Tennessee in January.
“D’Andre helped me a lot with this process,” Johnson said. “Most of the stuff I’m doing, he already went through.”
Johnson doesn’t expect to stop growing, he said, hoping to add another inch or two in height and a few more pounds to his frame. He had planned on committing before his senior season, he said, just as Payne did last April. And he’ll follow Payne’s example next January, when he plans to enroll early and get a jump on his freshman season.
“It wasn’t the plan to commit early like this. But when I went down there, it really blew me away. The coaching staff, the players, the academics, everything,” Johnson said.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 2
The number of national high school records set by Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky during Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swim & Dive Championship.
— Oakton’s girls and Robinson’s boys will have a chance to repeat as Virginia state champs after strong showings in Saturday’s 6A North region swim and dive championships.
— Top-ranked Eleanor Roosevelt received a scare early, but showed exactly why it is a state title contender with Friday’s win over Bowie.
VIDEOS FROM THE WEEKEND
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND
WHAT TO WATCH
Girls Basketball: No. 2 Paul VI at No. 4 St. John’s