Reports have surfaced in the last few days indicating Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal has emerged as the leading candidate in Miami’s search for its next head coach.
It’s unknown the level of interest Cristobal has in the opening, but it’s easy to imagine what kind of effect his departure could have on a handful of recruits he’s pursued in both the 2016 and 2017 recruiting cycles.
Cristobal is held in high regard across the country for his recruiting ability, and just last year he was named 247Sports.com’s Recruiter of the Year for his role in securing 10 commitments for the Crimson Tide.
But one current Alabama commit said he won’t waver on his commitment if Cristobal moves on.
Netori Johnson (Ellenwood, Ga.), a four-star offensive guard, told SEC Country on Wednesday that he committed to Alabama — not a coach.
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound junior from Cedar Grove High School still believes Alabama’s style of play along the offensive line — under Cristobal’s direction or not — would remain intact.
“At the end of the day, I’m not going to college for Cristobal,” Johnson said. “Right now, he’s the offensive line coach. I would love to be a part of what he’s teaching. But at the same time, I’m looking at the program and what it can make me. If he leaves, it wouldn’t change my mind a bit.”
What could change his mind, though, is where his teammate Antwuan Jackson, a four-star defensive tackle, ends up. Back in September, Johnson told SEC Country in an interview that he had an interest in both Auburn and UGA.
Coincidentally, Jackson holds Auburn in high regard.
“Where he goes, that’ll have a big impact on me, though,” Johnson said. “Antwuan is like a brother. I go against him every day. He makes me better. When I first got there, he would whip up on me.”
Johnson admitted he would give whichever school Jackson commits to a look. The two have had conversations — some serious, others not as much — about playing together. And the same can be said of his other teammate Tre Shaw, a 2017 cornerback.
“Where I go, I might have a strong impact on (Shaw),” Johnson said. “Or he may have a strong impact on me, too.”
Johnson is rated as the No. 12 player in Georgia in 2017.