In the past four days, LSU has gone from defeating then-No. 14 Texas A&M on a walkoff 28-yard touchdown throw from Max Johnson in Ed Orgeron’s last game as the head coach of the Tigers to announcing the hire of former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
The hiring of Kelly came Monday night and with two weeks until the early signing period begins on Dec. 15, Kelly will need to put work in to keep LSU’s recruiting class at bay.
Oconee County senior tight end Jake Johnson, rated the No. 1 tight end in the 2022 recruiting class and Max's younger brother, said that he still plans on graduating early in December, but wants to talk with Kelly about the offensive-minded head coach’s plans for the tight end position.
“I really do love (Baton Rouge), but I do want to meet the new coach and his new coaching staff,” Johnson told the Athens Banner-Herald Tuesday night. “I’m sure we’ll talk on the phone. He’s going to call all of the recruits, but yeah I’m looking forward to talking with him and just seeing how I fit with his system and how he uses tight ends.”
Johnson committed to LSU in April, choosing Baton Rouge over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia. Max started all 12 games for LSU this season and Jake visited the campus several times this season, to see Max and attend games.
After Ed Orgeron and LSU mutually agreed to part ways, the search began to fill the head coaching vacancy, just two years after a 15-0 national championship-winning season. Kelly comes to LSU after going 92–39 over a 12-year span in South Bend.
“I knew that he was a great coach at Notre Dame and he’s had a great record over time,” Johnson said. “I feel like he uses the tight ends pretty well — he goes a lot to 12 and 13 personnel. I believe he’s a great coach.”
"As of right now, I really want to just talk to him and have the conversation to see what happens," he continued.
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Johnson, who earned All-American honors in September, hasn’t talked to any of LSU’s other 12 current commits, but expects to in the coming days. LSU currently has the No. 15 recruiting class, per 247Sports.
LSU five-star quarterback commit Walker Howard still has high expectations for the Tigers.
“"He's going to bring us to national championships," Howard told The Daily Advertiser Monday. "I can tell you that for sure."
In his final year at Oconee County, Johnson totaled 745 receiving yards and had eight touchdowns for the 10-2 Warriors.
“I feel like we had a pretty good season,” he said. “It wasn't the endgame of what we wanted. I mean, we all wanted the state championship, but that's not what we got. But I feel like this team with all the players and coaches, we all worked hard every day and we had a really, really good group of guys and coaches. I enjoyed spending time with them this year and really just playing with them.”
How does Johnson feel like he improved from game one to the high school finale?
“(I improved) my blocking a little bit and just being more aggressive,” Johnson said. “Just getting open, finding the holes on my routes and that’s what I really feel like I got better this season.”
During games, kids would walk up and down the fence separating the stands from the field in Watkinsville, yelling and waving to try and get Johnson’s attention. In the four years of playing for Oconee County, he’s grateful for the experiences and impact he’s left on the community.
“Just having all those little guys, it's special because you know they want to be like you and when they get older, they're gonna have the same opportunity with other young guys looking up to them,” Johnson said. “I'm always just so grateful for it and I’m just trying to do the right things and inspire them to be the best people they can.”
McClain Baxley is a recruiting reporter for the Athens Banner-Herald and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mcclainbaxley.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Jake Johnson eager to meet LSU football coach Brian Kelly