- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- Dwayne Johnson Jr. wanted to make his college commitment on a special day. So on Monday, his father Dwayne Johnson Sr.'s 49th birthday, he surprised dad by picking his college destination, one that Johnson Sr. appeared plenty pleased with: Purdue.
Johnson Jr., a 6-foot-6, 275-pound tackle from Houston/Bellaire High School, is Big Ten bound, choosing the Boilermakers over seven other offers, including his other two finalists, Colorado and Tulsa.
"I like what they had to offer as far as their football program; it's on the rise," Johnson Jr. said Monday while sitting next to his father in the coaches' offices at Bellaire. "They went to a bowl game last year. Coach (Danny) Hope is a pretty good coach. And the academics are great."
Recruited by wide receivers coach Patrick Higgins, Johnson Jr. felt good about all the members of the staff he encountered in the recruiting process: Hope, Higgins, offensive line coach Shawn Clark and supervisor of player personnel Kevin Maurice.
The Boilermakers offered him this summer and plan for him to be a right tackle when he arrives in West Lafayette, Ind. As for Johnson Sr., he couldn't be more surprised or pleased with his son's decision -- both the destination and the timing.
"It means a lot to me because we've been working hard, visiting colleges and I always told him, it was his decision," Johnson Sr. said. "I had no idea this was coming today, so I'm really, really proud that he really sat down and did his homework and made his pick."
Both father and son said they like the Boilermakers' history of producing quality offensive linemen. Johnson Jr., who said he plans to major in communications, hasn't visited the campus yet but plans to on Oct. 13th when the Boilermakers host Wisconsin.
"Purdue is known for their O-Line," Johnson Sr. said. "The coaching staff is wonderful. They talked to him a lot and I think that really did it. They showed a lot of interest in him and that's what you want - somebody who's going to take your son by the hand and offer him the best."
Johnson Jr., 17, fielded eight offers in all with the others coming from Colorado, Kansas, North Texas, SMU, Tulsa, UTEP and Washington State.
"I got to know the coaching staff at Purdue very well," Johnson Jr. said. "It's a great place that offers a lot. I did my homework and I thought it would be a perfect fit."
518dSam Khan Jr. and Max Olson