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May 14, 2014

Behind the commitment

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The commitment took more than two hours to process, but Clayton (N.C.) Cleveland three-star Sterling Johnson got it done late Tuesday night, securing a spot in Clemson's 2015 recruiting class.

Johnson (6-5, 288) talked about how the pledge unfolded in an interview with Tigerillustrated.com:

TI: From the attempted commitment elsewhere to your Twitter commitment being put on hold, I imagine you had quite a stressful night.

SJ: "Yeah. I talked to coach (Dan) Brooks, coach (Brent) Venables, coach (Mike) Reed. They said they were all-in with me. They just wanted me to talk to coach (Dabo) Swinney to make it official."

TI: So, why commit to Clemson after what happened?

SJ: "To be completely honest, Tennessee was my favorite leading up to (Tuesday). Then they told me they weren't going to accept my commitment with the way their depth chart played out. They wanted me to come to camp with other defensive tackles they've offered, then they'd take the best one.

"Honestly, that wasn't the part that bothered me. Spring ball has been over for a month now, and they knew that was their plan, but they waited till I asked to commit before they even said anything. That's what bothered me.

"The only reason Tennessee was above Clemson was because I could intern at the SEC Network there. But then I thought about it, and I've even told this to recruits and Tennessee coaches when asked who I have the best relationship with; it's Clemson coaches.

"I thought about that and the family environment there. Both of my parents liked it there, and they're graduating six defensive linemen. So I said to myself, some people may question whether I'm just trying to get this over with, but I believe my heart is in Death Valley.

"I don't believe it was coincidence I talked to Clemson the night before and Tennessee ended up telling me they weren't going to take me. I felt like it was an act of God. He was telling me to make this right move."

TI: What was the extent of your conversation with Clemson the night before?

SJ: "I talked to coach Reed and told him I was visiting in July when they have the cookout. I will be going to that."

TI: You've cited your relationship with Reed as one of Clemson's selling points since it first offered.

SJ: "It's not even just that. The whole coaching staff, they're down-to-earth good people. It's just the way they are, and I enjoy that. Some of these coaches, you can tell talking to them that the conversation is superficial or they are treating it like business.

"But Clemson has real people. It ties in with the family environment because it shows they do treat you like they would treat their own kids or as if you were their blood. That means a lot."

TI: How did your conversation with Coach Swinney go?

SJ: "It went well. He told me he was real excited. He told me he doesn't really want me visiting other schools because a commitment works both ways. I had some visits planned, but I'm canceling those at this point. I'm all-in and ready to work."

To chat with other Clemson fans about this article please visit The West Zone message board.

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