For one Tennessee commitment his path on the recruiting road to Knoxville has been a long and winding road.
You wouldn’t expect that especially being form Gainesville Georgia.
Four star linebacker A.J. Johnson fell in love with Rocky Top over 18 months ago, he has committed twice to the Vols and with signing day less than five days away, he is anxiously awaiting finally ending this process.
Johnson made is official visit to Knoxville last weekend and only realized how and why he loved Tennessee so much.
“The visit went great,” Johnson told InsideTennessee.com Thursday evening. “It’s been a crazy week for me. I have been to the campus so many times, every time I go I love it even more than I did the last time.”
Derek Dooley, his Vol for Life Program and his coaching staff, made Johnson realize that Knoxville was the place for him.
“If I had to say one person or one thing made me decide to be a Vol, it has to be Coach Chuck Smith,” Johnson admitted. “Coach Chuck has shown me what it truly means to be a Vol for Life is really all about. He lives it everyday. He played football there, then the NFL. He has a lot of businesses he now owns and now he is a coach at the school where all of it started. I wouldn’t mind following that path of success.”
Johnson had committed to the other UT Coaching staff and first began coming to Knoxville his sophomore season and camped at Rocky Top the summer going into his junior year.
Johnson admitted that the coaching change at first had him concerned.
“I knew the other guys and liked them,” Johnson said. “The more I learned about Coach Derek Dooley and his new staff I realized a couple of things. Coach Dooley is a great coach, he is very down to earth. He is a man of character, those things were important to me and my family.”
Speaking of family, Johnson got the chance to bring his family with him again on this trip and they got the chance to get to know the Dooley and Tennessee family a little bit better.
“I loved going to his house and having dinner there,” Johnson said. “My family got the opportunity to get to know him and his family better, it was a great time. The food was really great.”
Is Dooley a Chef, and Vol Nation just didn’t realize it?
“No probably not,” Johnson laughed. “I don’t think he cooked anything, he probably had someone else do that.”
Johnson also has built a great relationship with his future teammates.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Johnson said. “They really care about each other, they are really close to this coaching staff. It’s truly has a big family feel about it.”
Another coach that Johnson is looking forward getting to know even better is his position coach Lance Thompson.
“I spent a lot of time with him last weekend,” Johnson said. “He is a great guy and a great coach.”
So how does Johnson feel after his official visit to Rocky Top?
“I’m a Vol for Life,” Johnson said. “I’m 100 percent sure of my decision.”
Johnson will sign his papers Wednesday morning on National Signing Day at 11:30 eastern time, finally putting an end to the long but rewarding travel that will end up at Rocky Top.