Johnson, who verbally committed to the school last summer, said it was an easy decision to follow through on that commitment because of what Georgia State has to offer as well as the fact that his friend Tarris Batiste, a former Cass High star, plays there.
“It was far enough from home but close enough to home at the same time and it’s a rising program,” Johnson said. “It’s a young program, and I want to be a part of something that’s big with a lot of potential.”
The Cass senior has high hopes of contributing to a successful program but believes he has to grow into the starting role first.
“I probably won’t start this year because I’m a little undersized, but I definitely will learn and get bigger and compete for a spot the following year,” he said.
Johnson, who is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 265, said he needs about 15 more pounds on his frame for the college game.
Rick Casko, who just stepped down at Cass High, said Johnson should have a bright future at Georgia State.
“Lucas is very young,” Casko said. “He just turned 17. I think that’s what Georgia State likes about him, his size already. He’s got good feet and his future looks very very bright. He’s going to be a big kid. He’s very young. I think they’re really forecasting his size.”
He said signing Johnson is a long-term move.
“They’re working to get some young guys in there,” he said. “Like I say, he’s got good feet and he’ll be a big kid.”
Casko also likes what he’s heard about Georgia State’s coach, Trent Miles, and the fact that former Cass star Batiste is there.
“Tarris ... was at Indiana State when coach Miles was there,” he said. “Coach Miles will do a great job. He’s got a great pedigree. The programs he’s been involved with are top level. He did a great job at Indiana State, taking a program that was losing and he made them into winners.
“It’s going to take him a little bit of time. Jumping in the Sun Belt was big. It’s a big conference and last year their nonconference games were against Alabama and West Virginia. They really have a tough, tough schedule.”
Johnson said the school plays the highest competition and he sees a lot of upside to attending Georgia State and he wants to be part of the reason for its success.
“By the time I graduate from college,” he said, “I plan on having a couple of rings on my fingers from the Sun Belt Conference. A couple of bowl rings, too, wouldn’t be too bad.”
He said the school also provides a great education for its students. “It has a lot to offer. It’s a great school.”
Johnson said he’s not the first football player with Cass roots to see that value.
“Tarris is going to Georgia State right now, and he was one of the factors in my deciding to go to Georgia State.”
Batiste was a three-year starter at Cass High, playing both receiver and safety for Casko’s teams.
He was credited with scoring 17 touchdowns during his stay.
After completing his high school career, Batiste went to Indiana State, which was coached by Miles. According to information on the Georgia State website, he played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2012 at Indiana State and was credited with 24 tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one forced fumble.
He followed Miles to Georgia State and last year led the Panthers with 9.5 tackles for loss and was second with 77 tackles.
Batiste also had an interception, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.