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Gorman: Belle Vernon star Dorian Johnson will take his time

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, 11:12 p.m.
 

The opening weekend of college football season marked the coaching debuts of Paul Chryst at Pitt, Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Bill O'Brien at Penn State.

That would make it a difficult decision on which game to attend for a top-100 prospect heavily recruited by all three schools.

So, Dorian Johnson decided to stay home.

The Belle Vernon offensive tackle, who backed out of a verbal commitment to Penn State following NCAA sanctions for the Sandusky scandal, has put recruiting on the back burner.

“It was pretty upsetting, knowing I was going to go into the season with this,” Johnson said, “because I wanted to have it over.”

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Johnson said he is now considering Pitt, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. He intends to make official visits to all three schools this fall, and plans to attend the Pitt-Virginia Tech game Sept. 15 at Heinz Field.

Johnson said he will wait until after the season to make his college choice, though he doesn't want to announce it when he plays in the Under Armour All-American Game Jan. 4 in Orlando, Fla.

“I'm not going to decide there,” he said. “I want to get it done before then. I don't want to go on TV and do it.”

Johnson already made an appearance on ESPN's “College Football Live,” where he spoke about pulling out of Penn State's recruiting class.

Surprisingly, he has no regrets about the odd timing of his commitment, which came the same weekend Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing children. That was before the Nittany Lions were hit with a $60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and reduction of scholarships by the NCAA.

“It was a real tough decision,” Johnson said. “I just felt Penn State wasn't the place for me anymore because it wasn't the same place I originally committed to. All the academics and fan support are the same, but the bowl ban and scholarship losses are going to affect the football program.”

Training camp provided an escape from coaches, who have given Johnson the two things he wants most:

Time and space.

Johnson says Pitt is his favorite “right now,” thanks in part to his relationship with offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph and the lack of depth on the offensive line.

“I'd like to play early, if I could,” Johnson said. “I'd like to play as soon as possible.”

Just don't expect him to make a quick decision.

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