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July 26, 2012Tuesday was a special day for Mike Johnson.
Still excited over his Friday visit to UCF, the junior cornerback from Clearwater (Fla.) Countryside was hoping to make a return trip that morning with Pete DiNovo, Richard Benjamin, Artavis Scott and a few other friends from the area.
But Johnson's plans changed when his team scheduled an afternoon practice, so he called UCF secondary coach Kirk Callahan to let him know he wouldn't be there. What he thought would be a quick conversation turned into something he'll never forget.
"Coach Kirk understood and didn't want me to miss my practice," Johnson said. "Then he told me the good news. He told me he was offering me. I was like, 'What?' It came out of nowhere. I didn't think I would get an offer until the season was over. I just thought they would keep evaluating me."
Johnson received an offer from Iowa State during the spring and USF followed suit this past weekend after a strong performance at their Sling-N-Shoot camp.
He says the UCF offer was real special.
"Heck yeah I was excited," Johnson said. "I've been waiting for it. I've been hearing a lot about UCF and I know they're a rising program, stuff like that. I was real happy. I was speechless."
Johnson had his first look at UCF last Friday when he drove up for a visit with teammate Mike Love. DiNovo, Scott and a few other prospects were also there that day.
"I like UCF a lot," Johnson said. "It looks like a mini-town. I can see myself living there. It looks so good. I saw the dorms and it's real nice all around. We met one player, a linebacker, and then we went inside the indoor practice field. It's so nice. I've never seen anything like that before in my life."
What did he like most about the visit?
"My favorite part was when I met the head coach, (George) O'Leary, and he was talking to us about what he expects of people that go to UCF," Johnson said. "He doesn't accept underachievers. If he offers someone it's because he feels it's someone who is willing to work hard. I liked hearing that. When I visited Florida, I didn't meet the head coach or anything and they didn't want to talk about academics."
Johnson says he's already developing a great relationship with Callahan, his recruiter and possible future position coach.
"He was pulling me to the side on the visit and just telling me stuff like what kind of defense they run and what he expects," Johnson said. "He says I have the size and he just expects us to work hard. He was also talking about grades. I like him a lot. I can talk to him. He's funny too."
DiNovo, the East Lake quarterback who committed to UCF earlier this month, puts in a good word for the Knights whenever he gets a chance.
"I talk to him a lot," Johnson said. "He's always like, 'UCF boy, that's where it's at!' Now I've seen it for myself."
He says he plans to tag along with DiNovo to check out one of the upcoming preseason practices and he also wants to attend a few home games.
Johnson isn't sure when he'd want to make a decision - he's certainly in no rush with signing day for 2014 prospects still a year and a half away - but he does know he likes both UCF and USF.
He said the return of the "War on I-4" rivalry has enhanced his interest in both schools.
"(UCF) told us about how they're joining the Big East next year," Johnson said. "Now they're in the same conference as USF and they'll be playing each other. It will be a big rivalry game on Thanksgiving weekend every year. Coach O'Leary was talking about that. The first game, wherever it is, I plan on going. I want to see it. It's going to be big."