Published Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Newnan Times-Herald
Want to track down a big "Moose?" Make sure you're wearing red and silver.
Georgia may have put its crosshairs on Northgate junior DeAndre Johnson before more than 10 others including Georgia Tech could get their paws on the 6-foot-3, 311 pound defensive tackle among college football's recruiting wars.
Johnson verbally committed to Georgia on Tuesday, adding his name to a growing list of football talents in Coweta County either already in Athens or headed to play between the hedges in the near future.
He joins Newnan junior Tray Matthews, who also made a visit to Athens last weekend, among the list of Georgia's potential recruiting class of 2013. Verbal commitments, of course, are non-binding.
Currently there are three players on the Bulldogs football roster that played at county high schools, sophomore siblings Alec and Zander Ogletree (Newnan High) and freshman Eddie McQuillen (Trinity Christian). East Coweta senior end Cole Trolinger also plans on accepting an offer to walk-on at Georgia in the fall.
Johnson had at least a dozen Division I offers following his junior season and visited Athens last weekend with fellow recruit Tray Matthews of Newnan for Junior Day. He informed head football coach Mark Richt of his decision to verbally commit on Tuesday.
Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn said that Georgia seemed to be the frontrunner the whole time when talking with Johnson.
"He's already been up there two or three times. He went to the Junior Day they had. It seemed like everything I had heard from him was that he was leaning to Georgia," Northgate head football coach Tommy Walburn said.
Walburn added that Johnson "really liked what the coaches had to say. That's what he wanted to do. I'm just glad he's just a junior and we have him for another year of football."
"I always like being around the Georgia coaches - that's what I like most about Georgia," Johnson told Scout.com's Chad Simmons.
Named to this year's All-Region 3B-AAAA First Team defense, the junior was part of a menacing unit that helped lead the Vikings to a 11-1 record that included an undefeated regular season, a region championship and a trip to the second-round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Other schools that had offered Johnson reportedly included Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Duke, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Purdue, Southern Miss and Mississippi State.
Three Northgate seniors signed football scholarships earlier this month and Walburn said Tuesday that several others are close to making similar decisions.
Viking juniors Brandon Facyson and Sean Spencer have also received attention from major Division I programs. Facyson recently received an offer from Georgia Tech to with earlier scholarship offers from Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
Johnson had listed the Yellow Jackets as No. 2 on his list of schools and visited Tech for the Clemson game last fall. He could fit into Georgia's 3-4 defensive scheme under coordinator Todd Grantham as a noseguard with hopes of replacing Kwame Geathers and John Jenkins down the road. Geathers is a 6-6, 350 pound sophomore and Jenkins is a 6-3, 351 pound junior.
Georgia signed Harris County five-star recruit Jordan Jenkins this month to a scholarship. The 6-3, 245 pound Jenkins also plays defensive line.
Matthews, a standout safety with the Cougars, verbally committed to Georgia prior to the 2011 football season.
Ironically, Johnson began his football career in middle school playing alongside Matthews, who tweeted on Tuesday, "Man I'm getting back with all my old friends."