By Brandon Speck
Lafayette offensive lineman Eli Johnson committed to Ole Miss on Tuesday. His celebration: Rehab.
Johnson, a 2016 commit, left Saturday’s Class 4A state championship game with a torn right ACL, maybe more. That didn’t stop him from fulfilling a dream when he chose the Rebels over Akron, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State and Southeast Louisiana.
“I always wanted to play at Ole Miss,” Johnson said, “kind of a dream come true for me. I think it was just the right time to do it. I think they’re just tapping into the success they’re going to be having.”
Johnson tweeted a baby picture of himself Tuesday night in Ole Miss gear and tagged it with a #HottyToddy.
He said he will have an MRI to determine the status of his MCL and is rehabbing, prepping for surgery he hopes can be done before Christmas.
The 6-foot-3, 288-pound sophomore is expecting to miss up to five months of offseason and spring work. He won’t go through contact drills in the spring.
“Right now, I’m basically bummed on my lower body,” Johnson said. “I can’t squat, can’t deadlift, can’t power clean, can’t do any footwork, can’t run. I mean, that kind of frustrates me a little bit, because I’m not going to be able to train the way I like to train.”
Johnson said the injury occurred when he was driving a lineman and his planted right foot didn’t adjust with his shoulders. He came back in the second quarter, but left for good in the third of the 21-6 loss to Forrest County AHS.
He expects to be 100 percent when he hits the weight room in the summer. He also expects nothing less than another run at a state title, this one maybe more expected than the latest.
Johnson and the Commodores were 3-5 at one point this season. Then they reeled off seven straight wins and made their fourth state title appearance in five seasons.
“We have lofty expectations because of the success we have had,” Johnson said. “I feel really good about what we’ve got coming back on both sides of the ball and I expect us to be back down there again.”