Antwuan Johnson visited Michigan this spring, unsure what to expect.
A 2018 linebacker from Springfield (Ohio), he didn’t know the coaching staff that well, but that was understandable, considering he was only a sophomore.
“I didn’t expect the coaching staff to be like that,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I like their energy and the way coach (Don) Brown coaches his defense. … I’m a public school kid, and I just love the way he has his kids.
“And dealing with coach (Jim) Harbaugh, me and him just kind of clicked, and we’ve got a real good relationship.”
That was enough for the four-star linebacker to commit to Michigan on March 21, almost two years before he can sign his letter of intent.
“My family and I sat there and talked a lot about Michigan and about the visit, and it was just the total package,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder who expects to be a middle linebacker at Michigan. “The coaching staff, it was kind of a perfect fit for me.”
He became a bit of a breakthrough prospect as well, being the first Ohio player since the 2015 class headed to Michigan. There were none signed this year for 2016 and none among the current 11 commits for 2017, a factor he attributed to Michigan’s downward spiral on the field until Harbaugh arrived.
Seeing last year’s success, he was enticed by U-M’s future and already had a bit of a connection.
He has trained with U-M linebacker Mike McCray’s father in the Dayton area and knew McCray a bit as well. On Johnson’s visits — the one that led to the commitment and again for the spring game last weekend — McCray reached out.
The other surprising part was the fan intensity at the spring game. Johnson was impressed with how engaged they were with the players and the recruits on the sideline.
Though he’s years away from signing, he’s already working for the Wolverines.
As soon as he committed, he began chatting with his Springfield teammate, tight end/defensive lineman Leonard Taylor, one of the top-50 players in the 2018 class.
The night of the spring game, April 1, Taylor followed and committed as well.
“That’s like my brother,” Johnson said. “I just talked to him about it and asked him, did he want to be part of something great? I think he did. I told Coach Harbaugh I was going to get guys for this class. We have a chance to get the best class Coach Harbaugh will ever get.”