Johnson gets his moment
It was a fitting way of explaining things by Mustang (Okla.) High football coach Lee Blankenship, setting the stage for the announcement of star athlete Jacobe Johnson.
With almost the entire Mustang community in attendance, Johnson fulfilled a childhood dream by committing to Oklahoma at the Meet the Broncos event on Saturday evening.
Before Johnson revealed his choice, Blankenship opened the festivities by saying this will be the first time Johnson has gone public in saying where he’s going to go to school.
The first time was an appropriate way of stating it because for anybody who has followed Johnson’s recruitment, it has always felt like OU has been the choice.
But Saturday night was Johnson’s time to shine and let it be known.
After a minute-long commitment video was played on the videoboard, it closed by having Johnson saying he was going to continue his athletic and academic career at… before Johnson popped out of the inflatable Bronco. Boomer Sooner hit the loudspeakers, Johnson put on the OU hat and the party was on.
“It was crazy,” Johnson said. “I was like nervous and excited at the same time. It was great. Once I put the hat on, it just kind of hit me. It’s not a feeling you get every day. I loved it.”
Johnson was active in June, making official visits to OU, Alabama, Stanford and Michigan, but he’s never been the look-at-me type of character on social media.
Because of his rather laid-back personality, it was a little odd he chose to announce his decision this way. But it also allowed him to soak in a moment that was years in the making and something he’ll never forget.
“I kind of knew when I first got the offer, I kind of knew,” Johnson said. “That was my dream. Growing up, I always wanted to be there. I just wanted to go through the recruiting process to make sure. I’ve been building relationship with the coaches, great relationship with all of them. It’s been great.”
It simply didn’t matter. Once OU made the offer April 30, 2020, an unofficial countdown started to when Johnson, who is being recruited at cornerback, would become a Sooner.
Other schools could and would enter the race. The Sooners, of course, had a major coaching change with Lincoln Riley leaving for USC to pave the way for Brent Venables to take over.
No second thoughts. It’s only been less than a year, but Venables and first-year cornerbacks coach Jay Valai have only solidified Johnson’s connection to OU and made the decision that much easier.
“It’s been great,” Johnson said. “We have one of the best relationships of any of the coaches I talk with. We talk on a daily basis. He’ll send me quotes or videos of him working out. You know Coach Venables, he’s crazy. He’s just different than anyone else.”
Different in a good way, though. Johnson has noticed the changes in the OU program since Venables arrived in December. It has him saying he wants in, wants to be a part of that and the direction everything is going.
Johnson put on the OU hat, flashed the ‘Horns Down’ and then Mustang let him know how much it has appreciated what he has meant to the team and community.
After a short speech to the crowd to thank them for their support, Johnson was bombarded by youth players who were happy just slapping five or being able to touch Johnson and be a part of something so special.
“It was really cool,” Johnson said. “Especially for somebody like me. Something like this is out of my comfort zone. But at the same time, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life.”
Johnson became the 20th overall commitment for OU’s 2023 class, now comprised of 11 four-star prospects and nine three-star recruits.
He was offered based on his potential more than two years ago, and he’s begun realizing that potential, especially during a brilliant junior season that saw him star at wide receiver and at cornerback. He’s hoping the best is yet to come.
With his announcement in the books, Johnson said the pressure is off and time to focus on his senior season and winning a state championship.