NCF On The Trail: Gilbert Johnson

Q&A: Texas LB commit Cecil Cherry

January, 7, 2015
Jan 7
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The much-hyped "Florida Five" is now fully on board at Texas, and their ringleader calls it "a dream come true."

[+] EnlargeCecil Cherry
Tom Hauck for Student SportsThree-star linebacker Cecil Cherry says he's hyped to play with fellow Floridians at Texas.
Three-star linebacker Cecil Cherry of Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida, was the first to commit. Defensive backs Davante Davis and Tim Irvin, tight end Devonaire Clarington and receiver Gilbert Johnson have all joined the class since Jan. 1.

All five visited in November and bought into joining Charlie Strong's class and giving the Longhorns an injection of Florida talent like they've never before seen. Cherry discussed each member of the "Five" and their plans to bring a national title back to Austin in a chat with ESPN.com on Tuesday.

What was it about your official visit weekend in Austin that sold you guys on Texas?

Cecil Cherry: That weekend was great. We bonded together, had fun and talked together about making history and coming to Texas and taking over. We had fun as brothers and I believe the three or four years we spend together are going to be more fun. We want to bring our talents to Texas to take the program to the college playoff and play for a national championship.

What's going to surprise Texas fans about the way Florida kids play?

Cherry: Well first of all, we're going to bring back how 'The U' was, but we're going to do it the professional way. That's being generals with it, not wild how they were but still having fun and going around with a chip. We've got to be good players on and off the field: have fun, be all about ball, get your education, be a team leader. It's going to feel like, 'Man, we've got Florida boys on the team.'

How excited were you to learn you'll get to play with Malik Jefferson?

Cherry: Oh I was hyped. I like that Malik and [Anthony] Wheeler joined because it's not just about me making tackles. They can help me and I can help them. We can help each other get rings in college and try to get to the NFL. They'll be calling that the next 'Linebacker U.' We can all help each other out. It starts with the linebackers, the quarterbacks of the defense.

Tell me about Tim Irvin. What do you like about his game?

Cherry: Tim plays fast, he's undersized and he gets to the ball and takes control of the field. I want him to play safety behind me. He's so small that everybody has overlooked him, but he plays with that chest and has that dog in him.

What should we expect from Davante Davis?

Cherry: Oh, he's a lockdown corner. I like how he talks. He'll tell you what it is, tell you what he'll do. He's not scared to hit nobody. I want players like that, who go out with a chip on the shoulder. You do your job and go 100 percent at what you do. It's just like the Spurs -- everybody handles their position and goes 100 and they all bond together and win. That's what we've got to bring to Texas. All of us go 110 at our position and we make stuff happen and get in the college playoff and win a national championship.

What about Devonaire Clarington?

Cherry: Big body frame, physical, good route-runner. He's a special tight end, not your ordinary tight end. He can do a lot from the slot and bring some diversity to moving the ball on offense. I saw him at a couple camps and we started talking and relating during our weekend at Texas. It felt like we grew up with each other.

I know he's a year older than the other four, so have you seen Gilbert Johnson play much? What do you know about him?

Cherry: He's smooth, calm, collected. Good receiver. I think he'll tear it up. He's crisp with his routes and pass-catching. He's not a talker. One thing I noticed about these boys from going out with them, we had a really great time. We really look out for each other.

You know people are doubting Texas after how this season finished. What does this opportunity to help turn a program around mean to you?

Cherry: It's wonderful to me. Everybody might talk and say this and that, but Coach Strong didn't recruit those boys when he came in. Coach Strong has to get his talent in. It starts off with the Florida boys. If you want players, you're going to come down south to Polk County and all the way up. Everybody wants to play with dogs. Coach Strong recruits to win, pay bills and feed his family. Coach Mack Brown was there to recruit nice players. You've gotta look at Florida State. They've got all these Polk County, Florida, boys in there and they win a national championship because Jimbo [Fisher] recruited in Florida where the players are. Coach Strong knows where to get 'em to change the program around.
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Now that Randy Shannon has been officially announced as a part of the Florida coaching staff, the expectations for success in South Florida are high for the Gators.

When ESPN 300 wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) verbally committed to Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon, it didn’t come as a surprise to many. After all, Malone is the top-ranked prospect in Tennessee and the Vols have placed a heavy emphasis on landing the talented pass-catcher.

Clemson, however, has been known to go out-of-state and land top receiver prospects such as Sammy Watkins. The Tigers might have lost out on Malone, but it’s not like they were left empty-handed.

Clemson already has commitments from ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), as well as Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga/Fork Union Military Academy).

The Tigers are also targeting another ESPN 300 prospect Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) and they are considered, by many, to be the favorite for the talented pass-catcher.

In addition to Clemson, Malone was also heavily considering Georgia and Florida State before narrowing down his choices to Clemson and Tennessee late in the process.

For Georgia, the Bulldogs already have commitments from Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland) and Gilbert Johnson (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and they are limited on scholarships. Unless something changes on its recruiting board, Georgia might not take another receiver in this class.

Florida State, meanwhile, is still in heavy contention for ESPN 300 wide receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and Florida commit Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead). If FSU continues to have success on the field and happens to win the national championship, the Seminoles will likely see new names appear on their board.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
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Alabama continued its recruiting dominance by adding an ESPN 300 wide receiver and several SEC commits had huge games to start off the 2013 high school season. Here's a look at the biggest storylines over the weekend.


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WR Johnson breaks down UGA commit 

June, 8, 2013
6/08/13
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ATHENS, Ga. -- While all eyes were on ESPN 150 wide receiver Cameron Sims at the Mark Richt camp, it was another wideout that made the first big news of the day for the Bulldogs. Gilbert Johnson (Miami, Fla./Southridge) had a big day on the field and followed that up by committing to Georgia afterwards.


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