June 2, 2011

4-Star Illinois DT set to visit MSU

Michigan State will get an unofficial visit from one of the top defensive tackles in the country when Jaleel Johnson of Westchester (Ill.) Montini Catholic High School tours the East Lansing campus.

Johnson is ranked the No. 140 player in the nation and No. 4 in Illinois by Rivals.com. Rivals.com's rankings put him at No. 10 in the nation among defensive tackles and No. 2 in the Midwest at that position.

"He is actually going up to Michigan State this weekend," said Montini head coach Chris Andriano. "He is going up there with his aunt. It is one of his top schools right now. I think he is going up there, planning on working out (camp-style)."

The 6-foot-2 Johnson, whose weight is listed at anywhere from 272 to 290, has indicated that Michigan State is in his lead pack, and his visit confirms it.

"There are like four schools that he really has on his radar right now: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota," Andriano said. "Illinois is kind of in that category. Those are the schools that he really likes the most and he is going to go and check them all out again. He is really trying to separate those five schools."

With the school year ending at Montini last week, Johnson is now setting his summer schedule.

"He is trying to set up a schedule around our stuff here with our football program and he is trying to get back to see those schools, trying to get to one-day camps," Andriano said.

Johnson had scheduling conflicts which won't allow him to attend any of Michigan State's summer camps, thus he will visit this weekend.

It will be Johnson's second trip to East Lansing. He attended a basketball game at Michigan State for a junior day during the winter.

"He likes the people up there at Michigan State, so it was a good fit for him so far," Andriano said. "Dan Roushar is the recruiting guy for Michigan State here in this area. He knew about Jaleel already and we sent out all the information and they like his film and he wanted to be in a Big Ten situation, so Michigan State is definitely one of his schools.

Similar To Former Top 100

Johnson has transferred from Westchester St. Joseph to Westchester Montini for the 2012 school year. Montini is coming off of consecutive Class 5A state championships.

"Jaleel was obviously a standout for them (St. Joseph) last year and he came in with a lot of notoriety and he has done a great job of working to get even better," Andriano said. "He began getting scholarship offers in January and he is up to about 15 now.

"He has been doing great in the weight room. He is benching over 300, cleaning like 260, squatting over 400. He is there all the time. He has a great attitude.

"He has really good power. He is athletic. He moves really well for a big kid and he has good hips. He explodes through things."

Montini has coached dozens of Division I players during his 33 years as head coach an Montini. He has three linemen who are playing major college football in 2012, Vanderbilt starting defensive tackle Tim Fugger, Northwestern reserve offensive tackle Chuck Porcelli and second-string Ohio State defensive tackle Garrett Goebel.

"Believe me, Jaleel is right there (as a major conference prospect)," Andriano said. "I can tell that this kid is the real thing."

Sometimes it's difficult to tell. Porcelli was three-star recruit, ranked the No. 26 player in Illinois by Rivals.com. He has been a depth player for the Wildcats.

Fugger was a two-star, unranked prospect. His only other Division I offer was from Akron, despite the fact that at 6-4, 220 pounds he won the conference 100 meter title. He will be a third-year starter at Vanderbilt this year at 6-4, 245.

Goebel was a Top 100 recruit, ranked No. 1 in Illinois and No. 64 in the nation in 2008.

Andriano said Johnson compares favorably with Goebel.

"We have a kid that is at Ohio State that was a big offensive tackle and defensive tackle for us and a heavyweight wrestler and Jaleel is kind of in the same mold, with good balance, good movement skills, a heavyweight wrestler," Andriano said. "Jaleel is a tough kid, was a good wrestler last year, didn't quite make the state meet, but he brings that balance and toughness and competitiveness to go with the physical ability."

Johnson plans to be thorough and meticulous in doing research during his summer tour. There are no plans for a summer commitment at this point.

"Jaleel told me that he wanted to wait until after the football season so that he could take some official visits," Andriano said. "He is still taking things in, going slow."

And the next stop for him, is East Lansing.

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