Andrew Johnson has been waiting to come to Eugene for a long time. The linebacker out of Tifton, Ga., has been an Oregon Ducks fan since the days of De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota.
“I’ve been a fan of Oregon since I was 15,” Johnson said. “They were the second team to offer me a scholarship.”
Being a fan made the decision to commit an easy one for Johnson. He committed to the program on Aug. 1 and made it official when he signed his NLI on Feb. 7.
Johnson says his commitment to Oregon was never in doubt, even when head coach Willie Taggart left the program for Florida State in early December. “I really only talked with him a couple of times, so it didn’t affect me when he left,” Johnson said. Many players decommitted from the program after Taggart’s departure, but Johnson’s lack of a relationship with the former head coach ended up working in Oregon’s favor.
According to Johnson, the coach who he’s developed the strongest relationship with is defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. He said that Leavitt recruited him the hardest throughout the year. Johnson was able to describe their relationship succinctly: “I love that man to death.”
Despite being excited to play under Leavitt, Johnson says his decision wouldn’t have changed if Taggart had brought Leavitt to Florida State. “It was a life decision. I want to make mistakes away from home,” Johnson told Armchair. “I want to get out to explore and adventure. Florida State is a great school, but they’re just too close to home.” Johnson’s desire to get a taste of somewhere away from home was one of the biggest factors in his decision. It opens up the opportunity for him to try new things and meet new people.
When asked which player he was most excited to play alongside next year, Johnson didn’t hesitate to answer. “Troy Dye. He was my host player when I came to visit,” Johnson explained. “He’s a really funny guy, he knows the game of football. I talk with him all the time.”
Johnson has quite a bit in common with the player he formed a quick bond with. The two both began their careers as overlooked three-star prospects far outside any major recruiting service’s top-300. Johnson will also likely have a similar transition to the one Dye made in 2017. “Leavitt already told me that I’d be going from outside linebacker to middle,” Johnson said. “I’m 6-foot-2 and I’ve put on a little weight lately.” If the similarities Johnson has with Dye translate to his on the field play, Oregon fans could be lucky enough to have found another diamond in the rough.
No matter how his career turns out, Oregon fans can get used to seeing Johnson on the football field, as he doesn’t seem to have plans of leaving anytime soon. “I want to graduate from here and eventually get a master’s degree,” Johnson said. “I also want to use my God-given talents on the field to help us win games.”
Johnson did not enroll early, so he will not be participating in spring practices or the spring game. He will instead join the football team after he graduates high school in June. He will then begin what will hopefully amount to a full, successful career with the Oregon Ducks.