Former MLB star signs off on son’s decision to play football in SEC

Brandon Johnson (247Sports)

Brandon Johnson (247Sports)

Charles Johnson knows a great deal about making the right call.

A former MLB catcher for 12 seasons, his career was predicated on suggesting the right pitch against opposing batters.

So when his son, Brandon Johnson, a 3-star receiver from American Heritage (Fla.), was close to committing, he steered him in the right direction.

“I really wanted Brandon to make a decision fairly soon, and if he had to make a decision, Tennessee was the place at this point in time,” said Charles, a four-time Gold Glove winner. “I didn’t want him to wait, wait, wait throughout the season, and things are not there when you want them to be there. That’s why I told him to make a decision now.”

The 6-foot-3, 172-pounder, who reported 22 offers, committed to Tennessee on Wednesday, a decision that ultimately came down to LSU, Miami, UGA and the Volunteers.

“Basically, he really enjoyed Tennessee as far as the atmosphere, the people,” his father told the AJC. “(Head coach Butch Jones) was a class act. (Receivers coach Zach Azzanni), who really recruited him hard, did a great job. Being a receiver, it’s not a bad place to go knowing they pass the ball in their offense, so, he made that decision.”

Interestingly enough, Johnson chose Tennessee over his father’s alma mater, Miami, where Charles was a standout catcher for the Hurricanes. He was named first-team All-America by the Sporting News as a senior before being drafted by the Florida Marlins in the first round in 1992. He played his first four seasons with Marlins and was an All-Star in 1997, the same year the club won the World Series.

Despite the family lineage, Miami did little after offering Johnson as a sophomore.

“Miami offered him in the 10th grade, but Miami never really — after they offered — pursued him,” his father said. “They offered him in the 10th grade, and he wasn’t ready to commit yet. They never really went after him. Other teams came into play, and that’s when he ended up deciding to go to Tennessee.”

The two other schools, UGA and LSU, were attractive programs, too. Johnson was in attendance for UGA’s “Dawg Night” prospect camp back in July, but didn’t get the opportunity to meet coach Mark Richt. It didn’t help that the Bulldogs were also a little late to the recruiting table, either.  And though he claimed an offer from the Bulldogs, it’s not known how much of a priority he was for UGA in light of some the program’s most recent commitments at the position.

“Georgia kind of came on as of late,” his father said. “It wasn’t like Georgia was recruiting him a year ago. They came on just recently.”

Unlike the Bulldogs and the other two programs, the Volunteers have consistently recruited Johnson for quite some time, his father says. Ultimately, that gave Tennessee the edge.

“He’s locked in at Tennessee,” his father said. “That’s where he’s going to go. I don’t see anything changing.”

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