Rick Casko, head coach of the Colonels, said Johnson made a verbal commitment after the Panthers made him an offer following his workout last Friday in a combine at the college.
Casko took Johnson to the school on Thursday. He is the first underclassman to verbally commit to play at a college since Cass football great Richard Samuel made a similar pledge to the University of Georgia in the middle of his junior year.
Johnson, a two-year starter at Cass, said he likes the direction in which the Georgia State program is headed and wants to be a part.
“I liked everything I saw at Georgia State,” Johnson said. “I liked their program and feel it’s going in the right direction.”
He said he wants to be a part of a program that will be playing two-time defending national champion Alabama and West Virginia, another national power, as well as other power programs.
“I want to be a part of something big,” he said. “At Georgia State I could see myself making an impact.”
He noted he also expects to suit up against Clemson the following year as well as other programs that are among the nation’s best.
“Georgia State has a great football program and offers a quality education,” he said. “I believe it’s a great fit for me.”
Although his future is set, Johnson said, he and his fellow Colonels still have some important goals they hope to accomplish at Cass.
“After coming from 0-10 to 5-5,” he said, “I feel we have a chance to do something great this year, something that’s never been done at Cass High School.”
Casko said Johnson has a lot of physical gifts to draw the interest of the Panthers.
“He turns 17 in August and he’s already 6-foot, 5-inches and weighs 255 pounds,” he said. “They could see his potential. As a sophomore he weighed 225, then moved up to 240 and now is 255. They could see him growing. He’s not only a big kid, but he’s got good feet and he did a good job in the combine.”
Casko said rising junior Aja Morris also drew an offer but did not make a commitment at this time.
“Morris is 6 foot, 3 inches and weighs 280,” Casko said.
He said Morris, who is a nose guard and offensive lineman for Cass, was offered as an offensive lineman.
Casko said Cass players are drawing more interest.
He said Johnson is one of 17 sophomore starters at Cass who are now rising seniors. He said the players have been working hard in the weight room and on the field and now are beginning to get the recognition that comes as they improve as ball players.
“We are hoping to get more offers,” the coach said. “There are still more combines this month and in July, and we’ll see.”
Casko also applauded Johnson’s verbal commitment to Georgia State.
“Coach Miles is a great man who is building a great program,” Casko said. “He’s coached at the collegiate and pro level and has a great staff.”
He noted the Panthers play in the Sunbelt Conference and said it will challenge its players.