Rutgers prioritized Anthony Johnson early in the process and their efforts have paid off. The Rivals250 linebacker out of Philadelphia (Pa.) Neumann-Goretti announced his commitment to the Scarlet Knights on Wednesday night, choosing Greg Schiano’s squad over Alabama, Auburn, and Oregon.
“I felt the most comfortable with Rutgers,” Johnson said. “The coaches are always genuine. They talked to my family and everybody throughout the recruiting process. I got tired of waiting in this recruiting process and I felt like it was time to act and committing to Rutgers was the right thing to do. I’m going to get to play in the Big Ten and be on TV every weekend. Greg Schiano has a lot of connections in the NFL and all the coaches have been around.
“I felt like if I go there and I’m a big recruit, I can get other big players to go there,” he said. “I know the coaches just got there and I know that I’ll have that security. Greg Schiano has a good report at Rutgers. Last time he was there they were a big program. Now that he’s back, he has a good staff with coach Fraser and coach Fran. They’re all great people and great coaches.
“It was really coach Fran that really recruited me but all the coaches really did their part,” said Johnson. “It was different with him. He’s been on me for a while. He gave me my first offer when I was a freshman. As soon as I was a junior, coach Fran stayed on me and was pushing me but not in a bad way.
“They just had some good signees and coach Fraser has been in the NFL just recently under coach Belichick,” he said. “We always talk about football and you can tell how smart he is. He just needs the players and pieces to put on the field and I think I can help him run the defense with those other signees. I feel like we can compete with the Ohio States, the Penn States and whoever else is out there.
“Coach Fran Brown is a great recruiter and there are a lot of players that are right on the edge but they’re so worried about how everybody else is going to see them,” Johnson said. “Since I’m going there, I hope that gives them a little push and more confidence to come there and build something new while still being close to home and close to a lot of things. I feel like Sam Brown would be a good fit at Rutgers and same with Shawn Battle, my teammate. I hope he comes next year”
On his other contenders: “My main focus was education but obviously football was a big part of it,” he said. “What I could get from all four of my finalists on that was big. I know a player that went to Oregon and that helped me learn a lot about them and how they do things. Alabama is Alabama. On the field they’re great and after football coach Saban’s players have a good track record. I felt like Auburn, with their new coaches coming in, there would be a lot of security there. I’ve talked to Auburn’s coach and got a feel for his track record and where he’s been. I was looking for SEC and Big Ten teams plus Oregon. Out of the SEC teams, the two that I would fit in with are Alabama and Auburn. “
Johnson is a really important addition for Rutgers because of what he brings on the field and the clout that comes with landing a coveted prospect with plenty of other major options. On the field, Johnson is a thumper at linebacker that can be dominant between the hashes. He does a good job of shooting running lanes and shedding blockers to get to the ball carrier. The key part of Johnson’s game to watch is his speed. He needs to stay fast to remain his most effective at the next level. Johnson’s commitment to Rutgers is a signal that Greg Schiano and his staff will continue to be a series recruiting power with any player from Philadelphia and the southern New Jersey area.