By LAVONTE YOUNG
Home sports editor
LINCOLN -- Defensive tackle Jauntavius Johnson is expecting to make a decision on his future in the next few weeks. Johnson’s top four schools are Alabama, Auburn, Louisville and Southern Mississippi. The Lincoln standout is ranked as the nation's No. 31 defensive tackle and a three-star prospect in the 24/7 Sports Composite. Johnson has already visited Auburn and Alabama this summer, but plans to take trips to other schools before he makes his announcement.
“I went down to (Auburn’s) Big Cat Weekend and it was a day to spend with the coaches, which I enjoyed,” Johnson said. “We got to meet with all the coaches and play games and have fun. It is some stuff that you wouldn’t do with normal teams. I went to Alabama and I had to show off my talents. They offered me a scholarship. I am planning on going down there this coming week to go visit the campus and walk around. I have to go Louisville. I’m getting ready to visit their campus and meet the coaches. I am going to try to meet all the schools that I can within these two weeks. I have a decision to make coming soon. I still have to go to Louisville, Southern Miss and I am going to try to get out to Mississippi State.”
Johnson seems to be impressed with Auburn.
“The one thing I like about Auburn is that it feels like home when I go there,” Johnson said. “It feels like I am in Lincoln when I go down there. When I go around the coaches, it feels like the coaches I am at home with. When it is all said and done, we are coming to work. At the end of the day we are going to sit down as a family, eat good just like we were at home. That is why I am going to meet other schools. I have been to Auburn multiple times. I want to go to other schools to meet with the coaches and enjoy the recruiting process.”
The 6-foot-4, 323-pound lineman 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. Lincoln head coach Brad Wallace said he noticed a change in Johnson which began late last season.
“The thing about Jauntavius, he has gone through a major change,” Wallace said. “I think it started towards the end of the football season last year, and he built on it during the off season. He has become the leader; he gets in and works out. I remember in the spring, he was helping the young kids out with stuff. We were trying to get as many bodies as we could, and he was helping the young people out. He has taken on the leadership role, the younger kids respond to him and he understands that. I really think it has been a great change for him. You can tell he is pushing his team and his work ethic is unbelievable. You can tell by the way his body has changed that he has put in the time to get where he is supposed to be.”
Johnson hasn’t really put together goals for the season; the only thing that he wants to accomplish is remaining at a high intensity level for the entire season.
“My goal is just to stay hungry,” Johnson said.” You have the goals you want to accomplish like make all-state and being all-county, but it is just being hungry, because I don’t want my recruiting process to go down. I am just staying hungry, humble and leading my teammates the right way.”
Lincoln has had several students to sign Division I scholarships in the last few years, including Jonathan George (Kentucky) and DJ Howard (Clemson). Johnson said he has learned a lot from the players who have come before him.
“I talk to them,” Johnson said. “Some of them didn’t have the greatest time and some of them did good. All they say is, it is about the hunger and the fight in you. That is what it is going to take; if you don’t have that, you might as well not go. They kept it 100 percent honest with me. Right now, I am working out with Jonathan George to just get that mentality in me and embrace it. This is something that I really want to do.”
Contact Lavonte Young at email@example.com.