It’s Auburn for Callaway’s Johnson
Published 10:58 pm Monday, June 10, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
When the 2020 season rolls around, there could be two former Callaway High offensive linemen playing for the Auburn Tigers.
Keiondre Jones, a four-year starter at Callaway, has already signed with Auburn, and he’ll be a freshman this fall.
Tate Johnson, who’ll be a senior at Callaway this season, announced on Monday that he plans on signing with Auburn.
Johnson can make it official during the early signing period in December.
“Auburn is a huge SEC program, and that’s mixed with the fact that at Auburn, I truly feel a family atmosphere,” Johnson said from Cochran where he and more than 20 of his teammates are participating in the Mike Hodges offensive-line camp this week. “It’s a true brotherhood between teammates. And it’s only 45 minutes from home. It was just the perfect fit for me.”
There’s plenty of time between now and signing day so Johnson didn’t have to make a decision this early, but he wanted to put the recruiting process behind him.
“I have enjoyed the recruiting process. But what a lot of people don’t see is it’s very stressful,” Johnson said. “It’s a very big decision. It’s a decision that might impact your entire life. It is a dream, and it is a blessing to be in this position, but it is very stressful. For it be over now, it is a relief, it’s a weight off my shoulders. Now I can focus on recruiting for Auburn, getting ready for Auburn, and having a great senior season and leading Callaway to where we want to be, winning a state championship. We’re working hard.”
Last season, Johnson was a part of a veteran, talented offensive line that was a key reason why Callaway made it to the Class AA semifinals before losing to Rockmart.
Johnson and his fellow offensive linemen helped Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby run for more than 2,000 yards.
Two of the main cogs on that offensive line were Jones and Johnson, and now they’re on track to be teammates again in a year.
“He’s super-excited,” Johnson said of Jones. “That’s what he’s wanted the whole time, but he backed off and let me make my own decision. It’s great that we’ll get to be teammates for another few years. We’re really close, so it’ll be good to have that bond on the offensive line.”
The 2018 season was Johnson’s first at Callaway, although he hardly felt like a stranger.
Johnson grew up in Troup County, and his family moved to Indiana before his seventh-grade year.
When the family moved back to Troup County in 2018, it was like returning home for Johnson.
“When I grew up here, I played recreation football and recreation baseball with the Hogansville organization,” Johnson said last fall. “So it wasn’t really coming back into a new environment. I came back to a place where I had known everyone, and everyone knows me. So they accepted me right away. It was an easy adjustment.”
The 2018 Callaway offensive line featured three players, Jones, Keshawn Cameron and Adrain Porter, who will be on college-football rosters this fall.
The only returning starters for the Cavaliers will be Johnson and fellow senior Austin Thomas.
“We know we’re not going to be as talented as we were last year,” Johnson said. “We’re losing Keshawn, we’re losing (Jones). And (Porter) was a solid guy for us. But we’ve embraced the fact that nobody thinks we’re going to be as talented.
“There’s not a harder-working group on the field than our offensive line,” he added. “We want to show people how good of a un