In His Own Words: What Really Happened with Johnny Townsend
By Michael Chung
Signing Day was media frenzy but no one would have predicted that the center of the firestorm would be punter Johnny Townsend.
After receiving high-profile commitments from WR James Clark and S Vonn Bell, it looked like this would be one of the best National Signing Days in the history of Buckeye recruiting.
But rumors suddenly surfaced that Townsend was reconsidering his OSU commitment and was likely going to sign with Alabama. Later in the evening, Townsend was rumored to be signing with Florida. All speculation ended Thursday when Townsend decided to go with his heart and become a Florida Gator, his lifelong favorite.
He grew up watching games in The Swamp, both his parents graduated from Florida and his brother is currently a student, so the Gator ties are deep for the Townsends. All sorts of rumors swirled about why he would de-commit at the eleventh hour: Did Meyer pull his scholarship? Was he asked to greyshirt? Did Ohio State over sign? Did his parents push him towards the Gators?
Johnny took time to answer questions from The-Ozone in order to dispel those rumors.
Ozone: Your Twitter had you wearing an Ohio State cap the day before National Signing Day. What was the process of how you went from that to signing with Florida?
Townsend: Over the summer, I attended both Florida and Alabama camps and loved them both. They both told me that the best they could offer for now was a preferred walk-on but if something opened up, they would let me know. On Monday, both coach Saban and coach Muschamp called and informed me that there was a spot.
After much thought, I desired to go with my heart because I have been a Gator fan since I could remember and it has been a dream of mine to play with them since my youth. Neither my mom nor my dad pushed me; they just told me that I need to do what is best. My brother and I talked a lot about the Pros and Cons of both situations. In the end, I went with my heart.
Ozone: Did OSU coaches call you on Weds morning and ask you not to sign due to James Clark, Dontre Wilson and Vonn Bell committing?
Townsend: That did not happen at all, nothing was pulled, no one asked me not to sign, I had my letter-of-intent and could have signed it with no grey shirt or any string attached.
Ozone: You said you were on the phone 15 hours, who were you talking too?
Townsend: Coach Saban, coach Meyer, coach Muschamp and my brother.
Ozone: What did Urban Meyer say to you?
Townsend: I called him Wednesday morning. I told coach Meyer that other opportunities came up and that I was reconsidering. He was shocked and could not understand, but my mom and dad got on the phone and explained things to him. Coach Meyer told me he felt I had a great opportunity to start at Ohio State as a freshman and compete for a national championship but I think he understood where I was coming from.
Ozone: When did Florida offer? Do you think James Clark committing to OSU opened up a scholarship spot at Florida?
Townsend: No influence, Florida told me Monday I had an offer.
Ozone: The first rumors had Alabama offering, did they offer and were you thinking of signing with them?
Townsend: They did offer on Monday and I was close to signing with them. I loved their camp over the summer and it would have been great to play with the powerhouse. I felt that at Florida, I would make relationships that would last longer since I am a Floridian and at Alabama, after I graduated, I would not see people anymore. Also, my family is only an hour and a half away so I can also spend more time with them.
Ozone: Was there any type of special agreement with Ohio State that your family knew you would greyshirt if OSU over signed the 2013 class?
Townsend: No idea where that came from, I had a full D-1 scholarship offer from the beginning.
Ozone: How close were you to staying with Ohio State?
Townsend: I was very close and had developed great relationships with coach Meyer and coach (Kerry) Coombs. I had great relationships with some of the commits and hung out with them at the Army All-American Bowl. Evan Lisle and Mike Mitchell were going to be my roommates. It was a really tough decision.
Ozone: Who have you talked to from Ohio State commits? What did they say? Did anyone get angry?
Townsend: I have talked to Evan Lisle and been tweeting with Eli Apple. Evan was very sympathetic and understood my decision. He was also offered by Alabama but he told me to stick with what is right. Evan said that in the long run, I need to make the decision that was right for me. Eli and I have been messaging on Twitter and he is saying the same things. Mike Mitchell and I have been playing phone tag. He would text, I would text, my phone would be off, but we have not yet talked. I will try to talk to him today.
Ozone: Any final words for Buckeye Nation?
Townsend: Just know that my family did not push me anywhere; I just went with my heart. I have dreamed of being a Gator since I could remember. Buckeye Nation has the greatest fans around and they have treated my family and me wonderfully. I will miss all of you.
*Thanks to Johnny for taking some time to clear things up during this hectic time in your life. We wish you all the best in your future.