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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
5-star DB Tyreke Johnson is one of the top priorities for UGA in the 2018 cycle.

5-star Tyreke Johnson: ‘The staff knows how I feel’ about UGA

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way a 5-star like Tyreke Johnson might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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Tyreke Johnson will make another trip to Georgia this weekend. He’ll compete with the River City Kings at Cam Newton’s Memorial Day 7-on-7 Classic at Shiloh High School.

The 5-star defensive back would love to come to the city Julio Jones calls home and get a rep. With Jones.

“I’m not turning down no fades,” Johnson said. “Like if Julio Jones came out there, I’d love to do a one-on-one with Julio Jones to see where I am at. Because I feel it is a win-win for me. Either I’m the kid known for getting done up by Julio Jones. I mean that’s one of the greatest receivers of all time in the game.”

“Or I’m the kid that you know shut down Julio. But my hat goes off to him. Great guy. Great receiver.”

If you know Johnson a bit, then that sounds just like something he would say. There has always been a sense of confidence to him. He believes in himself.

He twisted an ankle the day before the Nike “The Opening” Orlando regional at his part-time job on a go-kart track. Didn’t postpone his plans. Didn’t try on that excuse. Johnson still ran a 4.58 laser time in his 40 and qualified for the national finals.

Johnson also tweeted to Mike Vick to come check out Monday’s event. He doesn’t lack for boldness but he also balances that out with reality.

“Julio Jones is pound-for-pound the best receiver,” Johnson said. “He’s 6-foot-3 and runs a 4.3 in the 40. That’s unheard of. You know? 6-foot-3 and 225 and a 4.3? He’s a freak of nature.”

How would he guard Jones? Like a fan?

“No, forget that,” he said. “I am going to guard him the same way I would guard anyone else. He breathes the same air that I breathe. So why would I change what I do according to him? Why would I give him what he wants? I am going to get into his face and try to make him uncomfortable.”

He’d relish that.

“That would be a dream come true,” Johnson said. “Just to have the opportunity to be on the same field when the ball is thrown to Julio.”

Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson is rated as a safety but definitely plans to play cornerback in college. (Jeff Sentell / SEC Country.com)

That conversation is a good personality sketch for Johnson. Great knowledge of the game. Respect for the elite players.

But there’s also a strong sense of what he can do, too.

This isn’t a storyline where a top national recruit calls out the All-Pro. Johnson, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 191 pounds in his own right, just views that as a dream workout to improve his game.

A budding musician would love to pick a few chords with Eric Clapton. A rapper would pay for a chance to learn that game from Chance. That’s the way Johnson feels about his craft.

Does Tyreke Johnson favor any school? 

Johnson — who recently took a trip to UGA — said there are some things out there regarding his recruiting that sound like nothing he would say.

Is he leaning to any school? Like home state Florida? The nation’s No. 18 overall prospect got in the face of that topic, too.

“I am going to leave everything up in the open,” Johnson said. “The coaches know where I stand with them. The media can take it whichever way they want. They can write whichever school they think I’m going to go to. I know who I am messing with. So we are just going to sit there and laugh at the mistake.”

What’s the most accurate way to report on his decision at this time?

“Just a guy who is enjoying the process and just living life,” Johnson said. “Just trying to give his (high school) team the best opportunity they have to win. I’m not really necessarily putting out any tops (schools) right now. So anything (out there) biased towards a certain school is pretty much false. I’m not the type of guy who is going to put out any tops real soon.”

If you read anything regarding him having a favorite, he said that might be a waste of time.

Florida, Georgia, UCLA and Ohio State are just a few of the schools to pay attention to here.  Johnson has told DawgNation recently that Florida and Ohio State have really come on strong over the last few months. Clemson is another team to watch for, too.

He said “like maybe October or November” would be a time to expect him to make a commitment.

“I’m leaving early (to enroll early) so I got to get up out of here,” he said.

The main thing for Tyreke right now is his upcoming senior season. He’s getting the chance to be a slot receiver for Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) as the school chases its fifth consecutive Florida state title. He’s excited about the chance to catch a few screens of his own this fall.

Tyreke Johnson recaps his recent UGA trip

Johnson isn’t new to the recruiting game. He’s been shaped by relationships with older elite recruits that commanded the national spotlight. Chauncey Gardner, Richard LeCounte III and Demetrius Robertson could teach a class to young bulls about how to use the media to shape an athlete’s personal brand.

Johnson respectfully declined to answer if UGA has positioned itself for an official visit.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. I can’t answer that. But the coaches know where I stand.”

Don’t expect to him confirm the names of his official visits before he puts them out there. He might not even announce them at all.

What did he think when he snapped those pictures he tweeted out? Was he making any vows? Having a moment? Johnson said he was just posing for a picture.

“It was just one of those poses where what goes through your mind just comes to you,” he said. “I was like ‘Dang, this is all coming true. I am in a Georgia Bulldog uniform right now. You know?”

Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson is rated as the nation’s No. 18 prospect in the Class of 2018. The 5-star recruit has been to UGA a lot and plans “multiple” return trips this fall. He will enroll early in January.

His mother Pamela Jones joined him on the trip. She also posed in a Georgia jersey.

“Mom loved it,” Johnson said. “She was very excited from the time we got there to the time we left. She had a very amazing time.”

Johnson visited UGA on Saturday and left on Sunday morning. His mother had been there before, but that was on a couple of trips during the Mark Richt era. This was her first trip to meet Kirby Smart.

“For her, she felt he was a very interesting guy,” Johnson said. “A down-to-the-earth guy. She loved he will be the one coaching me. She loved that. The head coach will be the one coaching me? That’s real love when the head coach wants you and will be coaching you. That makes you want to go there.”

Here are a few rapid-fire thoughts on the trip:

  • Johnson wanted to visit in a slow period. His family could then get some personal attention. “I didn’t want to go when a lot of other recruits were in there,” he said. “I wanted to go when it was centered toward me so I can fully understand what they are doing up there. And then for my mom, she can get all her questions answered where they don’t have to cater to anyone else.”
  • Mom loved the visit and Johnson plans another trip. His mother wants to go back. He mentioned he will make multiple return trips before he makes his decision. His mother even told him that they both had to make another trip to Georgia during the season.
  • Seeing the indoor facility was a highlight. Johnson has stated that UGA was the school that he knew the most about. He had the fewest questions about what life would be like in Athens compared to his other options. “I already know what Georgia is about and what they produce,” he said. “I already know the players there and the coaches. But seeing them ‘up’ their facilities and seeing them doing locker room renovations and stuff shows the boosters are on board. They believe this program is going to win because they are giving up money.”
  • UGA assistant coach Glenn Schumann is doing good work. Schumann is Johnson’s lead recruiter. Johnson felt their relationship is strong. Very strong. “I love coach Schumann,” he said. “It just stinks he’s not my position coach. I feel like that’s a man I can learn a lot from as a coach. That’s whether I go to Georgia or not. You know? He’s just one of those guys who can help you out in life. An all-around great guy.”
  • He has his eye on possibly wearing No. 13 at UGA. Johnson tried on those jerseys but he also knows who wears No. 13 for the Bulldogs. That’s defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter. “It depends,” he said. “If he leaves or not this year. If he has a monster season like I think he will, then it will be wide open for me. But if not, there’s another number that I will have to find.”
  • What did LeCounte say this time? Johnson considers the UGA freshman and uber-recruiter of the 2017 class to be a brother. That bond is tight. “He said ‘you know what time it is’ and ‘C’mon man stop playing with all these people man’ when I saw him,” Johnson said. Johnson noted that LeCounte has put on a suit of armor across his five months in Athens. “Richard has done got jacked,” he said. “He had always been a little scrawny but now he looks like a man.”
  • Better come at him with a strong pitch.  Johnson suffers no fools in his recruiting. He’s always a great interview because he has strong opinions. Virginia Tech defensive back commit Chamarri Conner (his Trinity teammate) joined him on the trip. He feels he can play at safety or corner, too. Johnson said Conner also loved their UGA visit, but that his teammate has yet to get an offer. He said his choice is still open to all schools. “Every school has something different to offer,” Johnson said. “So it is just one of those things where I am not shutting down any school because of me being selfish or tying myself down to one school. No. I am going to listen to what every school has to offer. Now if it is bull, it is going to go in one ear and out the other. But if it is good, then I am going to remember what they had to say and add them in.”

 

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