In an environment where no one seems to be sure what might happen next, Lincoln-Way East's Jamal Johnson was just looking for some sense of security.
Johnson's recent commitment to Bowling Green provides some of that, locking down a place for the Griffins offensive performer who filled a variety of roles for the Griffins in a 2019 state championship season and hopes to expand on that in the spring of 2021 before departing for Bowling Green next summer.
"I felt relieved and felt good in the moment," Johnson said. "It was a lot of stress in the recruiting process, nobody knew exactly what was going to happen next. So I felt like it was a good idea to get it locked down."
Johnson did manage to get a pair of unofficial visits to schools that were interested in his services, but established a quick bond with Bowling Green that he found a pull to the Mid-American Conference school almost immediately.
"The coaches showed love right from the start, as soon as they offered, and even before that," Johnson said. "The head coach (Scot Loeffler) has been in contact with me and my family almost weekly. It was crazy. We had Facetime calls and Zoom calls left and right, I felt more comfortable right away."
Bowling Green indicated that they like Johnson's versatility and willingness to do what he has to get on the field in whatever capacity the program needs him for.
"They like how versatile I am, they like how I can move around the field. Wide receiver, running back, in the slot, they just like that about my game. And how aggressive I am," Johnson said. "I'm really just like a guy you can just give me a helmet and some pads. I really feel like I'm a guy who can make a difference with the ball or without it."
And while initially there were conversations about early graduation so Johnson could join the program sooner, once Illinois elected to have spring football for high schools, the Bowling Green brass was content to allow Johnson to finish his career with Lincoln-Way East.
"They had talked to me originally about maybe enrolling early, but I had been on the phone with coach and he wants me to prepare for my next season, he wants me to finish out my senior season."
And while the cycling of the football season to the spring didn't exactly delight Johnson, he's committed to doing the best he can with the situation.
"It was disappointing. but still grateful that we are having a season next spring," Johnson said. " Regular football is played in fall. But you just have to get used to it."
Bowling Green has created a pipeline with the Lincoln-Way East program. Adrian Wilson, a defensive end, is an in incoming freshman with the program and Johnson will be joined in the Bowling Green 2021 class by a teammate, safety Matt Kordas who has also committed to the school.