LINCOLN – Feeling at home is how Lincoln defensive tackle Jauntavius Johnson has described Auburn since leaving Big Cat Weekend earlier this summer. On Wednesday afternoon, Johnson made Auburn his official home, as he verbally committed to the Tigers in the Lincoln High school cafeteria.
“That is a place where I feel at home,” Johnson said. “It is a blessing. It is something that I have always wanted to be since day one. My hunger and my humbleness are not going to stop.”
The Lincoln standout is ranked as the nation's No. 31 defensive tackle and a three-star prospect in the 24/7 Sports Composite. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Johnson was a force on the defensive line for the Golden Bears last season. As a junior, he recorded 79 tackles. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns. Johnson earned Alabama Sports Writers All-State honorable mention honors.
During the recruiting process, Johnson has made sure that he put his team first. Signing before the season was another way to do that.
“I always put my team first, and I knew if I got this out the way we could focus on having a wonderful season,” Johnson said. “Some of the guys have been helping me since day one, so we are about to go out there and grind in practice.”
Johnson attempted to add suspense to his announcement, as he had an Alabama hat on one side of the table and an Auburn hat on the other. Johnson attempted to put on each hat, but they were too small, so the 6-foot-4, 323 pound defensive tackle walked to a side hallway and walked out with an orange Auburn T-shirt and khaki Auburn hat.
“I came up with it at the house,” he said. “I thought about before I went to sleep last night.”
With his plans for the next four seasons out of the way, Johnson is totally focused on trying to lead his team to a state championship this year.
Lincoln head coach Brad Wallace believes that his dominant defensive tackle has a tremendous up side.
“In my eyes he still has a long way to go,” Wallace said. “When I say that, when you look at his film, he is already there. He is still scratching the surface in what he can do. When he gets there, it is going to be a tremendous feat for somebody.”
Johnson is the third Lincoln player to sign a Division I scholarship in the last six years (Jonathan George, Kentucky; DJ Howard, Clemson). Wallace believes having players sign to helps make the players work harder.
“I’ve told the kids that they have a great tool,” Wallace said. “You have college coaches coming in here and you have college coaches at our school and looking at our talent. That’s the one thing you can see blossoming. His work ethic changes what a lot of these guys do in practice. They watch him going full speed and the rest of them fall in right behind him. He does it by visual and vocal.”