The Clemson Insider caught back up with this Class of 2022 commit, who couldn’t be happier to be “All In.”
Christ Church Episcopal School (Greenville, S.C.) three-star offensive tackle Mason Johnstone is trying to take in as many home games as he can this season. He was in attendance for Clemson’s wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College and detailed his experiences with TCI.
“It was awesome. I’ve definitely never had an experience like that, going in the locker room, hearing the pregame speeches,” Johnstone said regarding Clemson’s 14-8 win over Georgia Tech. “It was great to be around everybody and see people again. It sucked because of the rain circumstances. It was definitely a weird game.”
What’s the type of feedback Johnstone’s gotten from Clemson’s coaching staff on these game day visits?
“They were just kind of happy to see me,” he said. “We just talked a little bit about how my season is going and where I was at and stuff.”
Johnstone says that he has a strong relationship with both Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell and offensive analyst Thomas Austin. Caldwell has actually helped Johnstone’s older sister with her studies at Chapel Hill because he has some connections up there.
“It was great,” Johnstone said of being able to see Caldwell and Austin face-to-face again. “I love being around those guys because they always make me feel like I’m at home. They just remind me that I’m at the right place. They’re so welcoming and so hospitable. It’s like I’ve known them for my whole life and (the Georgia Tech game) was my third time meeting them.”
Johnstone had been to Clemson games prior to two of those home games, but he had never gotten the “VIP treatment” as a recruit before.
He was able to put into words and context just how different it is.
“Everything about it is different,” Johnstone said. “We got there at 11:30 a.m., we’re eating really good food and coaches are coming up to you and talking to you at the indoor facility. It’s like just being on a visit. Then some of us go up and run up the hill. I actually had never been up there, close enough to run down. Right before they came off the bus, we ran up the hill and watched them. Everybody’s screaming like I could have touched everybody. I remember, I think it was Ajou Ajou, he was screaming in our faces. He was so excited.”
At the Georgia Tech game, Johnstone was around some of his fellow Clemson commits like Cade Klubnik, Collin Sadler, Sherrod Covil and Adam Randall.
“It was great. Those guys, I have great relationships with all of them,” Johnstone said. “Every time I see Cade, he’s giving me a big hug. Me and Collin are really great friends. Me, Rod, and Adam are all close. Just being around those guys, it’s just comforting.”
Every time Johnstone comes back to Clemson it just reaffirms that he made the right choice.
“I think everyone’s excited about being on campus and being here all the time,” he added. “You can just see how much everyone loves being there and how excited they are to come to these games and just hanging around and feeling like they are a part of Clemson.
Dabo Swinney told Johnstone that he would be playing tackle when he gets to Clemson. He said that he thinks left tackle is the ideal scenario down the road.
“Obviously, that’s your blind side,” Johnstone said. “That’s one of your bigger impact guys on the offense. It will definitely be a journey to get to that point, but ideally with my athleticism and stuff, once I put on weight, I think that’s where they’d like me to play.”
What has Clemson told him about the opportunity he’ll have once he’s officially on campus?
“Really, I feel like I have an equal opportunity as everyone else and they’ve made me feel that way,” he said. “Obviously, I’m coming in a little light at a very needy position, but I remember Coach Swinney told me one time, he’s like, ‘My goal is you get here and in three years you look up and we have a starting left tackle.’ One day they’ll wake up and see me and my potential will have been achieved. The whole goal is to put my head down and work and let everything else work out.”
Johnstone is hoping to make all the rest of Clemson’s home games this season, meaning he should be back in the stands for Clemson’s matchup against Florida State on Saturday, Oct. 30.
“They send me VIP invites every week,” Johnstone added. That’s super cool because I feel like most programs would just tell their walk-ons, ‘We’ll see you in June, good luck,’ but they’re actively talking to me and inviting me to games and stuff.”
What does that mean to Johnstone?
“I’ve heard of people’s other experiences as a walk-on and I’ve heard of (Former Clemson wide receiver) Josh Jackson,” he said. “He was a walk-on for a long time and he’s coaching at our school now. He had a great experience, though he really didn’t get that many snaps. You’re treated the same as everyone else. My sister is treated like everyone else. Even the commits, we all treat each other like we are all brothers and all family. There’s no drop off no matter who you are.”