With his senior season underway, four-star Bishop Mora Salesian linebacker Rahyme Johnson’s is nearing the next stage in his football career.
But don’t expect him to make a commitment until he’s taken his official visits.
“I really want to take my visits first, but if I do end up committing before then,” Johnson said, “Right now I don’t have a plan to do that, but my initial idea right now is to take those five visits.”
— Rahyme Johnson #16 (@rahyme_johnson) July 21, 2016
At nearly 6-foot-5, Johnson’s recruitment has picked up significantly since the beginning of his junior season.
He’s received nearly 20 scholarship offers from programs across the country, but the Los Angeles product hasn’t rushed into a decision.
“It’s really picked up. A lot of new schools have been coming in, a lot of new offers,” Johnson said. “It’s really going great right now.”
Johnson said he expects to receive offers soon from programs that have indicated their interest in the highly coveted linebacker.
One program that has shown significant interest in Johnson is the University of Nebraska.
On Friday, Johnson got an up close look at two players verbally committed to the Cornhuskers – four-star quarterback Tristan Gebbia and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., son of the legendary NFL wide receiver – when Bishop Mora Salesian faced Calabasas.
Although Johnson’s squad fell 35-26 to Calabasas, he had a chance to look at the talent headed to Lincoln, Nebraska.
“A lot of competition there,” Johnson said, before adding the Cornhuskers are among a handful of programs he’s evaluating. “I’m look at maybe a top-10, but right now I’m just focused more on the season.”
— Rahyme Johnson #16 (@rahyme_johnson) July 25, 2016
Johnson said he currently plans on taking his five official visits before committing, but he hasn’t finalized his dates.
But one game is circled on his calendar.
“I’m going to be here October 8th, for the LSU game,” Johnson said. “It’s probably going to be an unofficial visit. Me and (Gators commit from Pasadena) Elijah Blades and Bookie (Radley-Hiles) will just take an unofficial and go there together.
“And then after the season I’ll take an official.”
It won’t be the first cross-country trip to Gainesville for Johnson, who camped at Florida for Friday Night Lights in July.
— Rahyme Johnson #16 (@rahyme_johnson) August 2, 2016
While he’s enjoyed touring facilities around the country and talking with coaches, Johnson wants to make sure he takes his time with his decision. Especially if he’ll be trading in the West coast for the East coast.
And when it comes to the Gators, who offered in July after he left Friday Night Lights, Johnson knows the staff wants him in Gainesville.
He said coach Jim McElwain talks to him “more than any coach”, and he also talks frequently with running backs coach Tim Skipper and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.
“He’s just a real cool dude to talk to,” Johnson said of McElwain. “I talk to him pretty much every day, so you know just having conversations with him, talking about the Gators. It’s just cool to get to talk to him.”
The depth at the linebacker position is an area of concern for Florida this season, and the possibility of early playing time for an SEC contender is alluring to Johnson. It’s a pitch the staff has made to Johnson throughout his recruitment.
“They’ve definitely stressed to me the need for linebackers,” Johnson said. “I guess they had one guy on the team (Matt Rolin) who decided not to play, so I guess they have a need for linebackers.”
Johnson said he isn’t a guy to make a list of his top schools. If he’s interested in a program, they’ll know.
For now, his official visits are with the schools who have shown the most interest.
A week before he plans on traveling to Gainesville, Johnson will be in Nebraska on Oct. 1 to see the Cornhuskers face Illinois. He’ll then head to College Station, Texas, on Nov. 14 to see Texas A&M face Ole Miss.
“I don’t really have a top,” Johnson said. “Just the schools there that have been talking to me.”