Defensive Back, Class of 2023
Highland Springs, Highland Springs, VA
To say the offers are coming in at an intense rate might be putting it mildly. When the interview for this story began, Highland Springs (Va.) 2023 cornerback Braylon Johnson had 11 scholarship offers. By the time it ended, he had No. 12, when Michigan State interrupted the phone call to extend an offer.
Virginia Tech was the first to offer, on Jan. 5. Since then, it’s been followed by schools like Oklahoma, Penn State, Virginia, Maryland and lastly, Michigan State. But for Johnson, it’s been plenty to take in and a reminder of how his hard work has been noticed.
“To be honest, I don’t want to digest it,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to say, I can take a break off this day, I want to keep going. When alligators eat, they eat. They might stop eating for two days, and that’s the easiest time to kill them. You can’t kill me like that. You can’t take me out like that. I just have to keep working, not have a day where I’m not working.”
Johnson is the son of former Virginia Tech defensive back Loren Johnson, who’s been the coach at Highland Springs since 2008. The Springers won state championships from 2015-18. Because of his dad, Braylon said he’s been plenty familiar with the Hokies.
“It definitely means more, especially being my first (offer),” Braylon said. “Personally, I think they were trying to make a statement, like we need the 2023 guys to win. I think when Virginia Tech recruits guys in-state, like Mike Vick, they were wanting it. They strayed away from it, but if they get back on it, they win. There’s some real dogs in Virginia. If you just recruit Virginia, you’re trying to win the ACC.”
Assistant coach Ryan Smith made the offer for Virginia Tech. But Braylon said he’s long known a few others on the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton.
“Obviously, I have connections with Coach Hamilton,” Braylon said. “When I went up, I was like 12, and I’ve been to his house, or one of his houses. They’re very genuine. I can tell I’d actually have a shot. I think that anywhere, but Virginia Tech isn’t just recruiting me to say they’re recruiting me. I think they’re genuine.”