USC FOOTBALL

Worth the wait: Lakewood standout Johnson will sign with USC

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 12/20/17

When Tyreek Johnson found out that he wasn't going to be able to sign to play college football with the University of South Carolina on National Signing Day in February of this year at part of the school's 2017 recruiting class, it didn't sit well …

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USC FOOTBALL

Worth the wait: Lakewood standout Johnson will sign with USC

Former Lakewood standout Tyreek Johnson (3) will sign with the University of South Carolina today as part of the 2018 recruiting class after being grayshirted last year.
Former Lakewood standout Tyreek Johnson (3) will sign with the University of South Carolina today as part of the 2018 recruiting class after being grayshirted last year.
Sumter Item file photo
Posted

When Tyreek Johnson found out that he wasn't going to be able to sign to play college football with the University of South Carolina on National Signing Day in February of this year at part of the school's 2017 recruiting class, it didn't sit well with him.

"It was heartbreaking at first," said Johnson, the former Lakewood High School standout, who was grayshirted when it was discovered he had injured his labrum in his shoulder and had to have surgery.

Johnson, a defensive end/outside linebacker prospect, was told he would be part of the '18 recruiting class, and he's actually getting to sign earlier than he thought he would. With the first early signing period for football players set for today, Johnson will be signing with the Gamecocks today.

"It feels pretty good," Johnson said on Tuesday. "I get a chance to do what I've been wanting to do since last year. This is kind of like redemption."

Johnson, who was good on the academic side before the decision was made to grayshirt, will be enrolling at USC in January and will take part in spring practice when it begins.

Johnson, who committed to Carolina in April of '16, suffered the injury late in the Gators' '16 season. Johnson said he sat out a couple of games with the injury, but played again when it didn't hurt as much. Johnson played the Shrine Bowl with the injury even though "it still didn't feel right. It felt weak."

The injury wasn't discovered until the USC medical staff prior to signing day. He had surgery performed and went through rehabilitation. He is cleared to play.

"This might actually help me out in the long run," Johnson said. "It gave me time to get better, to help get my shoulder right. At the end of the day, it's probably a better situation for me."

While he has been working out, training and performing football drills, Johnson hasn't been involved in any contact situations since the Shrine Bowl in December of '16.

"I'm ready to get back out there," Johnson said. "It will be over a year since I've played football, but I think once I get back out there it will all be good."

Johnson went to all of South Carolina's home games in its just-completed 8-4 season. He's excited with the progress the program has made in just two seasons under head coach Will Muschamp.

"It's been pretty good improvement," Johnson said. "The defense got better last year, and I think it will continue to improve. I think the improvement is going to continue to where we have a chance to be the best team in the country."

Johnson was a big play performer in his final two seasons with Lakewood. As a senior, he had 91 tackles, 43 of them solo and 23 for a loss. He had six quarterback sacks and also blocked six kicks.

Johnson finished with 87 tackles, 21 for a loss, as a junior. He had seven sacks and three forced fumbles.