LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- On Thursday, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett linebacker Trey Johnson was formally announced as an Under Armour All-American when he was presented with his jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
Only 90 of the best high school seniors in the country are given the honor of playing in the game each year. For Johnson, being selected just means he needs to work even harder.
"This is something I have been working hard for, before I even knew I would have this chance," Johnson said. "Today is a really big day, but that means I need to keep working hard because guys that have been in this game, like A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Jadeveon Clowney, continued to get better after playing this game. That is why they are where they are right now. I have to keep improving and try to be just as good or better than they are."
From playing youth league football in Lawrenceville at age seven to approaching 500 career tackles in high school, Johnsons's continued quest to improve his game has been a pivotal factor in his success. Trey, whose real name is Wilbur Johnson III, remembers talking to his father after a 20-tackle performance one Friday night.
"For him, it is about those two tackles I missed, not the ones I made," Johnson said. "My dad is proud of my accomplishments, but he has always stressed that you never reach your best potential. That shows me that you should never be satisfied and that hard work is the path to stay on. For me, I am a big question guy. I am always asking what it is I need to do to improve, and I try to take that and work on it every day."
When Johnson was a sophomore, Todd Wofford came over from Gainesville (Ga.) High School to take over as the head coach at Central Gwinnett. Having seen Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson (no relation) every week at his previous stop, Wofford knew early on he might have something special in Trey Johnson.
"It has been pretty easy coaching Trey," Wofford said. "He has been an unbelievable player in that he is not just an outstanding athlete but also a student of the game. He watches more film than any player I have ever coached, and he has a relentless mindset. He tries to punish you, but at the same time he is working on his hands and studying the game to make interceptions and cause turnovers. That is what the all-around big-time playmakers do.
Trey is similar to A.J. in that they both love to go 100 mph in both practice and the games, but I think Trey is better in space and is in the film room more. Either way, those are two kids you want to go to war with on Friday and Saturdays."
The No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2013 class, Johnson committed Auburn in August of 2011 over offers from over two dozen programs. He took an unofficial visit to Florida last weekend, and will take official visits to Auburn, Florida, Penn State, Ohio State and USC.
Johnson says his purpose for the trips is to see if something sticks out. Any program trying to snag Johnson away will have to catch up to what the Tigers have already established with the ESPN 150 linebacker.
"Auburn has always been like home for me," Johnson said. "Any other school will have to outdo them in showing me how I fit into their scheme and outshine them when it comes to pros and cons."
Next year when Johnson takes his talents to college, he will have a chance to showcase his talents on a national stage every weekend. He is looking forward to the experience.
"That is the main thing," Johnson said. "I want to play in front of big crowds. That is just a dream I have always had. I want to represent Lawrenceville and Central Gwinnett to the fullest."