By Logan Lowery
Jocquell Johnson wanted to commit to Mississippi State as a senior at Callaway High School two years ago.
But it was too late to improve Johnson’s academic transcript enough to meet enrollment requirements forcing him to go the junior college route.
The Bulldogs continued their pursuit of the Jackson native to Copiah-Lincoln Community College. It paid off over the summer as the three-star offensive tackle gave his pledge and signed a national letter of intent earlier this month.
“It actually feels like I’m in a real good dream,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but it’s reality. I’m excited to get up there. It felt like I had a sumo wrestler lifted off my shoulders when I signed those papers. It felt so good.”
Johnson will enroll at MSU later this week and participate in spring practices. He is expected to compete for one of the Bulldogs two vacancies on the offensive line.
“I want to fine-tune some of my techniques,” Johnson said. “I want to learn whatever there is to be learned and be another Gabe Jackson, possibly even a little bit better.”
Johnson got bigger and stronger going to junior college. He went from 265-pounds to 320 on his 6-foot-6 frame but also got to get his grades in order as well.
“Going to Co-Lin helped me mature mentally, balancing my grades and playing football,” Johnson said. “I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have coming out of high school. I waited until the last minute and it was too late. I don’t regret going at all. I feel like it helped me get ready for Mississippi State even more.”
Johnson was rated the nation’s No. 42 junior college prospect and the 10th best offensive lineman. He also received scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas Southern.
But the longevity of the Bulldogs’ recruitment worked in their favor. Johnson gave his commitment on May 22.
“I thought about how loyal they’d been when I was going through (recruiting) the second time,” Johnson said. “They’d been on me since high school and that really played a big role for me. That took them a long way with me.”
Johnson was one of two new additions to State’s roster for the spring, joining quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who graduated high school early.