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Elite defensive tackle didn't stay unknown for long


  by Nikki Steele - Staff Writer - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:56 PM
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Johnson had 80 tackles and seven sacks last season

College football coaches try to keep quiet about relatively unknown prospects, but unfortunately for Clemson that didn’t work with Sterling Johnson.

The Tigers offered the Clayton (NC) Cleveland defensive tackle in late November, and since then he has picked up offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida St., North Carolina, Ohio St., South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, among others.

Johnson told TigerNet Monday night that getting the first offer from Clemson really came as sort of a surprise, but since then the recruiting process has become a bit overwhelming.

“It was crazy. I didn't expect it considering that Clemson was my first offer,” Johnson told TigerNet. “It felt real good. It's been kind of overwhelming, but at the same time it's a blessing considering that I'm an inspiration to a lot of people a lot of people would kill to be in a position that I'm in, to be able to choose what school you want to go to, do something you love and get a great education while you're at it.”

Area recruiters Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assistant Coach / Defensive Line
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and Mike ReedMike Reed
Defensive Backs Coach
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are already building a relationship with Johnson.

“My relationship with Coach Brooks is pretty solid,” Johnson said. “They are both really good guys. I feel like that if I was to commit there, that they would take me with open arms as one of their own.”

However, it was a trip to Clemson for Junior Day in early February that made Johnson realize what was so special about Clemson.

“One thing that really popped out at me was the family-type environment,” he said. “Everybody is constantly raving about Clemson and I finally was able to experience that when we went down there to visit.”

Johnson said that the family atmosphere at Clemson really begins with the Tigers' head coach.

“I talked to Coach Swinney and it kind of came back to the family environment,” he said. “He has a great spirituality and when everybody came together, that's when the football team started winning games.”

Johnson grew up a fan of both Clemson and North Carolina; however, he doesn’t claim any favorites.

“I don't have top-three or a top-five, but if I was to then I know that Clemson would be in there, definitely,” he said

After being named Cleveland’s defensive Most Valuable Player and racking up 80 tackles and seven sacks, it’s easy for some to see the comparison to NFL great Julius Peppers.

“A lot of people say that I’m a lot like Julius Peppers even though I play inside,” he said. “I guess my body frame kind or reminds people of him and I can see that. He was a little bit more cut than I am at this point, but we've got the same long arms, broad chests, and thicker lower body. I can see what they're talking about.”


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