The first few practices at national high school all-star games are often a wake-up call for top recruits. For the first time, many of them are facing players just as skilled and as athletically gifted.
“I need to get stronger in the weight room before I go off to college in the summer,” Johnson said. “I need to get off the jam a little better.”
There are three major national All-American high school football games in the next week. The Under Armour game is Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla. The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is Saturday in San Antonio and the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, in its first year, is Jan. 10 in Phoenix.
Another player with NFL connections at the Under Armour practices is Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) offensive lineman Andrus Peat, son of former NFL offensive lineman Todd Peat and brother of Nebraska redshirt freshman defensive lineman Todd Peat Jr.
While Andrus Peat inherited his father’s size (he’s 6-6, 280; his dad played at 6-2, 300), his football IQ is also at a higher level because of his father and brother. The Peats’ kitchen is often a spot for impromptu blocking technique sessions.
“The biggest thing at the higher levels is technique,” said Todd Sr. “When I played, if my technique wasn’t right, a guy like Howie Long could run me over. Size is a big factor, but you have to have the technique. Those are things he practices on at home, like kick sliding. The more you work on it, the better you get at it.”
Johnson has committed to LSU, where his brother played.
“(Patrick) has taught me to stay out of trouble,” Johnson said. “You don’t want a bad name going into college. He tells me to be coachable. Recruiting wise, he’s told me to take everything slow, even if I don’t go to his school, he’s still going to be behind me.”
Peat hasn’t announced his college choice, and watching his brother go through the recruiting process has taught him patience.
“It has helped me, getting my name out there because of my dad and my brother,” Peat said. “It takes a little pressure off me seeing how Todd went through the whole process and I can use that as an example. I just want to take my time to take the rest of my official visits.”
Recruits cannot sign a national letter of intent until Feb. 1.