Three-star cornerback Marquis Johnson out of Sarasota (Fla.) Booker took his official visit to Maryland last weekend. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder with 4.5-second speed was very impressed with his trip to College Park.
"I got there and stayed in the hotel with the team and took a tour of the school. I got to see the building, offices and met with the defensive back coach," he said. "Then I went to dinner with the players and hung out with the team afterwards. On Saturday, I woke up and had a meeting with coach Blackney. Then we went on a police escort to the stadium and went into the locker room. I hung out with the players later that night."
A major part of Johnson's visit was the game between Maryland and West Virginia.
"I liked what they were doing and I understand if they lose this year because next year they'll be off the chain since a lot of people are coming back," he said. "It was a lot of fun though and they could have won. Coach Friedgen told me after looking at tape of the game that they've got to get more and better defensive backs and they just don't have enough guys right now."
The No. 34 cornerback in the country had the chance to interact with many players and coaches on his trip.
"Marvin Peoples was my host and he and all the players gave me the skinny on what's going on there. I already knew a lot of them and that was good going into the visit," he said. "The coaches are the best. I talked with coach Friedgen a lot on my visit, for an hour once and then another half hour later. They all were no pressure about a commitment and were welcoming me to me whether they win or lose. I felt great love for the defensive backs and the players would come to the sideline and slap my hands. It was a great experience."
Johnson liked many of the things that Maryland was pitching him.
"I do feel I have a chance to come in and play and coach Friedgen told me that he doesn't say that unless he means it," he said. "I saw it for myself and I know they should have played more dime situations, but they didn't because they were limited on players. I also believe that it's a great place even if I don't make it to the NFL since they find you internships at the end of the season."
Maryland now is the leader for the No. 57 player in Florida.
"I'd give the visit to Maryland a 10-plus rating. I'm probably favoring them now," he said. "They told me no lies about the situation there and about getting playing time. They told me exactly what I have to do to get it done not just on the field, but also in the classroom so I can get in. They even went about checking into my eligibility to help me out. Later on the visit, they asked what number I'd like to play with. Finally, I know that recently Maryland has put a defensive back in the NFL every year. That's been their reputation and I really look at that."
Johnson still has a visit scheduled to Alabama in two weeks.
"I hope the coaches change the way they are pitching me including talking about playing time," he said. "I don't have as good a relationship with coach Ungerer and they always talk to me about committing there. My dad has told me that if they really want me they can wait. I really like the defensive backs there, but I don't really know about the coaches while I love Maryland's coaching staff. Alabama has also not checked my eligibility at all and I don't want to end up like Mike Ford because if they told him what he needed to do, he probably could be playing right now."
The cornerback prospect is very close to committing and probably will do so after the Alabama visit.
"It's going to be a very tough decision, but I got to look at what is best for me in the future," he said. "I think I would rather live in the city and not in Alabama when I get out of college. I wish my visits were over now so I could go ahead and get my decision over with. Either way I'll probably decide after the Alabama visit."
Even if Johnson does make a decision soon, he still plans to take all five officials.
"I've heard a lot of visits can change your mind and I'm looking at taking ones to Clemson, Miami, Florida and Ohio State," he said. "I was thinking about Iowa before, but I wish they were closer. I'm still considering my family so that they can see me. Miami has shown a lot of interest recently and their defensive coordinator plans to come and see me in a couple weeks for more film. Florida has asked for a transcript of mine and Ohio State is a visit I really want to take. I need to call them, but I don't have the coach's number."