January 26, 2011 8:24:00 AM
David Miller -
C.J. Johnson is comfortably a Rebel.
The Philadelphia High School linebacker, blue-chip recruit, and All-American is the state''s top-rated defensive player.
He was Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen''s second commitment in the fall of 2009. But Tuesday he confirmed he''ll sign with the University of Mississippi on National Signing Day Feb. 2.
Johnson was also being recruited by LSU and MSU after he opted to re-open his recruitment following the departures of MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz (University of Texas) and recruiting coach Mark Hudspeth (University of Louisiana Lafayette).
He canceled his official visit to LSU and said he is firmly committed.
"I feel like I have a better chance to succeed and be a better person and be in a great atmosphere than I would if I had went to Mississippi State," Johnson said.
Ole Miss now has 28 committed prospects, and is a favorite to sign South Panola High wide receiver Nick Brassell, another former MSU commit.
Johnson said he felt comfortable with the Ole Miss staff and said he felt like "everybody" was recruiting him.
At MSU, he had just met new linebackers coach Geoff Collins but lost the comfort level he had with Hudspeth and Diaz.
"The only person left was coach Mullen," Johnson said. "We''ve had some times where we''ve been able to sit down and talk, but overall it was an OK relationship."
Johnson (6-foot-1, 235 pounds) played in the Army All-American Bowl and was a consensus top-10 linebacker in the country. He would have provided instant competition for a starting spot at MSU, as the Bulldogs replace all three starters, including Senior Bowl participants K.J. Wright and Chris White.
Johnson said he planned to wait until signing day but wanted to get the "crazy" process out of the way.
A report Tuesday said recent rumors spread via social network site Facebook could have played a role in Johnson choosing Ole Miss.
Johnson acknowledged his frustration with Facebook users trying to sway his decision, but said it is one of many annoyances in the whirlwind recruiting process.
"I didn''t base my decision of Facebook," Johnson said. "That would be arrogant of me to say I didn''t go to MSU because y''all''s fans was chewing me out on Facebook.
"(If) you make a decision based on the fans, you make a decision for the wrong reason. Having said that, I''ve had some people posing as Mississippi State fans. I''ve actually had some State fans pose as Ole Miss fans because it''s a lot of people that''s graduated from my high school that go to Mississippi State. It''s a lot of Ole Miss fans around town."
Johnson addressed a recent rumor about his mother receiving benefits to influence his decision.
"There''s rumors going around that my mom has been working for some Ole Miss people and she''s making $100,000 a year," he said. "That''s definitely a trip, because if my mom was making that I wouldn''t be driving the truck I''m driving. I just wanted to get all that over with."
Johnson is the latest recruiting coup for Ole Miss, which has snagged Madison Central receiver Tobias Singleton and is still in the mix for four-star athlete Jermaine Whitehead, who also was committed to MSU and plans to decide before signing day.
Singleton made headlines just hours before Johnson when The Clarion-Ledger reported he''d had been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and felony mischief stemming from an incident with his 16-year-old girl friend.
The report says Singleton allegedly punched his former girlfriend, a 16-year-old student at Madison Central, then kicked a Chevrolet Impala that belonged to her mother. The report also said Singleton''s father and two brothers joined him in kicking the car, resulting in $3,321.18 worth of damage.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt told The Clarion-Ledger the school was still recruiting Singleton as of Monday night.