Shaker Heights (Ohio) athlete Antonio Johnson is being looked at by mostly MAC schools, and one of them is starting to stand out for Johnson.
“Ball State, I loved the facilities and the campus,” Johnson said. “That’s probably my favorite MAC school right now. They’re the first that offered and showing me the most interest. I got a good feel for the coaches even though it’s a new coaching staff. It seems they’re getting stuff rolling and building a program with a winning tradition.”
Ball State and Kent State, Johnson’s other offer, are recruiting him as a safety. Ball State will graduate three of its top four safeties, according to its latest depth chart.
“One of the main things I like is that they really need a safety, because they have three seniors,” Johnson said. “That’s a spot that’s really needed so I have a chance to play early.”
While most players are recruited by an assistant coach or position coach, Johnson is being targeted by Ball State head coach Pete Lembo and defensive coordinator Jay Bateman.
“[Lembo] is telling me he’s really excited about me, and I could be a real impact player on defense,” said Johnson, who speaks with Lembo about once every week or two weeks. “That’s what the defensive coordinator tells me, too.”
Even though Kent State is Johnson’s other offer, he said Toledo is second on his leaderboard at the moment. Shaker Heights played mostly Saturday afternoon games, so Johnson hasn’t been able to go check out Toledo yet, but he has a solid relationship with the coaches. Toledo coaches were present at Ohio State’s camp, and Johnson said he was able to speak with Paul Nichols, the Rockets’ co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.
Eastern Michigan and Akron are also looking at Johnson at safety.
Miami (Ohio) and Minnesota are interested in Johnson as a running back, a position he played sparingly his first few years at Shaker Heights. Finally the starter, Johnson rushed for 12 touchdowns, catching the eye of colleges that primarily looked at him as a safety.
Iowa and Michigan State, Johnson’s dream school, are also recruiting him, but he said both have kind of “fallen off” recently and haven’t been contacting him as much.
He said a decision will likely come before January, and he plans on using all five of his official visits.