March 15, 2011

Spartan DT target sees stock skyrocket

Earlier this winter, Michigan State extended a scholarship offer to defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson of Illinois. The scholarship was Johnson's first, however, it did not take long for other schools to jump on the bandwagon. spoke with the 6-foot-2, 285-pound and has the latest.

Michigan State hosted Johnson on a Junior Day visit back in January. It was on that visit that Head Coach Mark Dantonio extended him a scholarship. Johnson had the following to say to about his time in East Lansing.

"The junior day at Michigan State overall went really good. I liked how well the coaches seem to support the players and they are all on the same page. Also they really stress character and want kids who are great players along with kids who are great people and that impressed me. The campus at Michigan State is set-up really nice and everything is pretty connected. Michigan State also offers solid academics and they also offer academic support for the athletes which was also impressive. This was my first trip ever to Michigan State and I was pretty impressed with everything."

It did not take long for other schools to figure out what the Spartans already knew and Johnson has seen his offer list expand significantly the last few weeks. asked Johnson about his current scholarships.

"It is going pretty well," he stated. "The University of Wisconsin was the last school to offer me and I think Northwestern could be close to offering as well. I also have offers from Indiana, Arizona and Illinois. I am going to an Indiana practice soon and I also plan on visiting some other schools this spring."

The Spartans view Johnson as a Jerel Worthy type of defensive tackle prospect and the Michigan State Staff has been keeping in contact with him.

"I have spoken with Coach Roushar from there," he said. I like Michigan State because they are a program that has had a lot of success over the years."

The fact that the Spartans have gone to 4 bowl games in Coach Dantonio's first 4 years and captured a Big Ten title is something that has not been lost on Johnson. He has indicated that competing for titles is an important factor for him in his recruitment. We asked him about his timetable and what will be the key issues he considers.

"I probably will not make my choice until next winter," Johnson said. "I am looking for a school with a great coaching staff, a successful program and a school with good location. I would like to stay close enough that my family and friends can see me play."

Being from the Chicago area, Johnson has a strong selection of Big Ten schools that are with a few hours' drive.

Johnson recently made a big decision about his future when he transferred to Montini Catholic High School. Montini Catholic is a perrenial powerhouse program and is the defending State Champs in their division. We asked Johnson about the change of schools.

"Things are going really well," he said. "I am still trying to get settled in and getting to know the new teachers, students and my teammates."

No doubt, Johnson presence should help Montini make another run at the Illinois State Title.

Johnson plans on hitting several camps and combines this summer. will follow-up later this spring and confirm if he will be at Michigan State's Elite 1-Day Player Camp. Spartan Defensive Line Coach Ted Gill enjoys having the opportunity to work with recruits first hand. The majority of players who decided to become Spartans attended camp and build rapport with the coaching staff.

Johnson attended the U.S. Army All-American Combine back in January and was one of the top performers at that event. He will surely be one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the Midwest when the position rankings are released.

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