Lafayette’s Johnson talks visit to Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. – For Lafayette offensive lineman Eli Johnson, a trip to Lincoln to visit the University of Nebraska was something he felt he needed to do. Even though he is an Ole Miss commitment for the 2016 class, the 6-foot-4, 290 pound Johnson ultimately wanted to see what Nebraska and it’s great tradition was all about.

“I got there last Friday night and I was there all day Saturday. It was a really great visit. I had a lot of fun and I’m glad I made the trip. Their facilities, to me, were just amazing. When we walked in, they had a two-story water fountain with a picture in the back. The facilities were amazing and really impressed me,” said Johnson, who is a center prospect. “The weight room and all the research they put into the program … they took us up to a lab and showed us some pretty cool things. They had a bunch of information on dealing with concussions. They seemed like they were one of the leading strength and conditioning places in the country. They also treated me really well, and that was another good thing.”

Johnson is also a powerlifter at Lafayette, so the large weight room was right up his alley.

“That’s a big deal. You’re going to work hard anywhere you go, but that’s a really great thing that they’ve got such a good strength and conditioning program. They were really one of the first schools to really start that up back in the ’70s. They’re kind of the pioneer of it,” said Johnson, who is being recruited by secondary coach Charlton Warren. “We have a pretty good relationship. I’ve only talked to him a few times, like when he offered me and he set this up. He’s a nice guy.”

Good experience
Even though Johnson remains committed to Ole Miss, Nebraska still wanted him on campus to show him everything.

“My approach was it’s a good, prestigious program. When they offered me, it was one of those deals where I had to go check it out. I’m 188 percent committed to Ole Miss right now,” Johnson said. “I fully expect to be an Ole Miss Rebel. When they offered, I was like ‘I just got an offer from Nebraska and if it’s possible, I got to go see it.’ I really did it more for the experience. I’m committed to my dream school and I’m taking a backseat to recruiting. I’m just waiting until I sign now in terms of other schools and stuff.”

This past December, when the Commodores reached the Class 4A state title game, Johnson suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. He attended an invitation-only camp at Ole Miss earlier this month, but Johnson said he won’t take part in anything else in the effort to avoid a setback in his recovery. That includes likely bypassing any drills in the upcoming Southern Elite Combine held at LHS later this month.

“I won’t be doing any camps. The combine, I’m still debating that because of my knee and everything. There is really nothing for me to gain by going to it coming off an ACL surgery. I probably won’t participate in that,” Johnson said.

Getting stronger
The rehab process has gone well for Johnson, who is in the weight room currently getting ready for the 2014 season.

“I’m starting to feel like my legs are starting to get stronger and closer to what they were before I was hurt. I feel great right now, just as good as I did before I tore it,” Johnson said. “I’m doing all squats and speed training and all the exercises. I’m back. I feel great.”

As for the rest of the Commodores, Johnson felt like his teammates were doing their part as well to get ready for the campaign.

“We’re working hard right now. We’re hungry because nobody liked what happened down in Jackson this past year. We know we have a chance to get back there if we play to our ability. We’re all really eager to get back to Jackson, so we’re working really hard right now,” Johnson said. “In 7-on-7, they’re looking really good, too.”

john.davis@journalinc.com

Twitter: @oxfordcitizenjd

 



About John Davis

Eighteen years in the business. Dedicated to providing the best local content for sports. Oxford, Lafayette, Ole Miss, youth sports, outdoors and the things nobody else wants to cover.