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Highland Springs defensive back Braylon Johnson commits to Virginia Tech

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The family legacy always will be a part of Highland Springs defensive back Braylon Johnson’s career at Virginia Tech.

But he made it clear that his decision to commit to the Hokies, where his father played, was more about carving out his own path.

Near the end of an Instagram video announcing his commitment on Friday, Johnson has a segment on some of Tech’s former defensive backs. There’s a quick mention and a shot of his father’s name, Loren, an all-Big East defensive back at Tech (1995-98) who has coached Highland Springs to four consecutive state titles (2015-18) and a runner-up finish in 2020.

“It was never about that,” Braylon Johnson said. “Early on in my process, I liked Oklahoma and Michigan State a lot. I wasn’t big on following him. Even in the video, I tried not to incorporate him too much but still respect him at the end of the day and his legacy. But at the end of the day, this is about me. I feel like I earned this.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound cornerback, is ranked among the top 25 prospects in the state in the Class of 2023 by several recruiting services. He chose Tech over South Carolina from a long list of Power Five offers as the Hokies made further inroads in the Richmond area and in the state under new coach Brent Pry.

Johnson said he “really wasn’t going to go [to Tech] at first, honestly, just because the old staff, I wasn’t really fond of them. But that new staff and Coach Pry, they really came in and changed my mind. I was like, ‘This is the place I’ve got to be.’

“I would say my first time even thinking about seriously this was the place I wanted to go was maybe like three weeks ago. We had a 7 on 7, and on my way up ... I was like, I’ve got to be there. If I don’t, I’ll regret it my whole life.”

Loren Johnson said while he told his son he was there to help and answer questions throughout the process, he needed to make his own decision.

“I knew when he let everybody else know at 12 o’clock [on Friday when the video was posted],” he said.

“You let the young man grow and make the decisions he wants to make. That way he lives with the consequences and how they affect his life in the grand scheme of things ...

“If he [was going] to Bridgewater, I’d be proud. If he [was going] to Harvard or Yale … where I thought he’d end up … just based on what he was doing academically at the time, he’d play Ivy League football, make a lot of money after the fact, and drive off into the sunset. He had different plans.”

Braylon Johnson, who has a 3.8 GPA, said he will have 62 credits going into college. Intelligence and knowledge of the game are among his strengths, along with his physical tools and length in coverage as a cornerback.

Johnson said staying in state was a factor. He liked Tech’s defensive scheme — coaches told him they’ll play man coverage — its history of developing cornerbacks and his relationship with cornerbacks coach Derek Jones and defensive coordinator Chris Marve.

He joins other area Tech recruits in Highland Springs receiver/defensive back Takye Heath and Douglas Freeman defensive lineman Jason Abbey.

Johnson intends to gets others on board.

“I feel like I’m such a good recruiter Coach Pry needs to hire me after I’m done with football,” he said.

tpearrell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6965

Twitter: @timpearrelltd

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