As a recruit, offensive guard Tate Johnson was searching for a big-time program that also had a family atmosphere. In the end, Johnson decided the school that fit his criteria the best was just right down the road.
Johnson committed to Auburn on Monday. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Johnson had 21 other offers from schools such as Georgia Tech, Florida State and Florida.
Johnson, who plays at Callaway High School in Hogansville, Georgia, is rated as a three-star guard per 247Sports’ composite rating system. Per the composite rankings, he is the 23rd-best guard in the Class of 2020 and the 44th-best player in the state of Georgia.
“Auburn really embodies all the things I was looking for. It was just a perfect fit for me,” Johnson said. “It was being at Big Cat (Weekend) and seeing the brotherhood. I had some friends who went. With all of those guys who are committed, I really saw what we could build there at Auburn.
“It was really attractive to me, and it just made me want to hop on board with those guys and really just get this 2020 class rolling.”
Johnson becomes the ninth commit in the Tigers’ Class of 2020. He is the fourth offensive line commit for Auburn, joining tackles Javion Cohen and Jonathan Buskey and fellow guard Avery Jernigan.
Johnson is set to reunite with former Callaway teammate Keiondre Jones, the four-star guard who signed with Auburn as part of the Class of 2019.
Johnson was one of several Auburn recruits who were on campus on May 31 as part of Big Cat Weekend. The Tigers’ recruiting class has been steadily growing since then, as Cohen announced on the Saturday morning of Big Cat and three-star wide receiver Elijah Canion announced on Friday.
Johnson told Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and the rest of the coaches that he was committed during Big Cat Weekend.
Johnson plays tackle for Callaway and has also worked at center during the spring. Johnson was a key piece on the offensive line for a Cavaliers team that won 11 games in 2018 and reached the Class 2A state semifinals.
“We played a lot of good competition, and Tate was a huge part of our success. I felt like last year's offensive line was one of the best groups that I've been a part of in 22 years of coaching,” Callaway coach Pete Wiggins said. “He's a talented guy. He's big, he's strong and he's athletic. I think they're getting an offensive lineman who can bring a lot to the table as far as his size and his skills.”
Johnson said Monday has been overwhelming with all the people reaching out to congratulate him on his decision. He said it was a blessing to not only have Auburn fans sending him messages of support but also fans of the other teams that were in the mix choosing to take the high road and wish him well.
Johnson has his eyes on helping Callaway win its first state championship in program history this fall. After that, he’s set to help the Tigers chase titles of their own.
“I'm just a grinder. I love football. I love playing offensive line. I'm just a big, athletic offensive lineman that's going to get the job done and be a leader in every aspect of what I do,” Johnson said. “I'm really passionate about everything I do, and I just really want to bring championships back to Auburn University.
“I think we can do that, and I'm serious about that.”