Johnson commits to Alabama

Published 11:18 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

Andalusia star senior linebacker Nico Johnson has verbally committed to play football at the University of Alabama.

On Wednesday night, Johnson called Alabama head coach Nick Saban to tell him that he would be playing for his team.

Johnson is 6-foot-3, weighs 235 pounds and runs a 40 in 4.58 seconds.

Last year, he managed 80 tackles while missing three games due to knee and ankle problems.

Johnson said the reason he chose Alabama was that he would be close to home.

“It’s close to home and my mom stays sick all the time,” Johnson said. “She’s a diabetic and just got out of the hospital this week. She was in there for a week and I just thought I needed to stay close by. My heart was more at Alabama than at Auburn.”

Johnson said his mother is doing well.

Other schools that Johnson was considering all the way until his decision were Auburn, LSU, Florida and Texas A&M.

Johnson said Alabama started to take an interest in him when he went up and participated in a camp the summer of his sophomore year.

“I went up there the summer of my 10th grade year and [former defensive coordinator] coach [Joe] Kines was up there then,” he said. “I didn’t get offers then, but I went up there the next year when coach Saban was there, they noticed me and they offered me after the camp. I did everything they told me 110 percent.”

Johnson said he did not fully make up his mind until when he was at the doctor’s office to get his hand examined. Johnson hurt his hand earlier this year at practice.

“It was [Wednesday],” he said. “I just made my mind up. I was at the doctor’s office and I was sitting there thinking, and made my mind up then. My hand is doing great, I got it all splinted up.”

Johnson was a spectator at the Clemson game last Saturday in Atlanta and he said the Tide’s performance on the field played a big role in his decision to attend Alabama.

“They played relentless on both sides of the football, especially special teams,” Johnson said. “It was like watching an old game on YouTube when coach Bear Bryant was there. It looked about the same.”

Andalusia Bulldogs head coach Brian Seymore said that he hopes that Johnson’s decision helped take some weight off of his shoulders.

“I hope so,” Seymore said. “He’s a 17-year-old boy. I think that getting committed early was a good thing, so now that he can be focused on playing for Andalusia.”

Seymore said since his prior position as the defensive coordinator at Andalusia two years ago, Johnson has grown into a mature young man.

“He’s grown maturity wise,” he said. “He’s grown up as a young man and has taken responsibility on leadership roles.”

Johnson said people in the community have offered congratulations on his decision.

“I would like to thank everybody that supported me, my coaches, teammates, teachers and family,” Johnson said.

Johnson will be majoring in criminal justice in the fall.

Johnson’s committment to play at Alabama will not be official until national signing day on Wed., Feb. 4, 2009.