OGDEN, Utah — Alex Johnson loves his hometown of Los Angeles.
Johnson, a cornerback from Loyola High School in California, said he didn't think much of Montana at first, but everything changed on his visit to Missoula.
"I didn't really picture myself going to Montana ever really, but when I was with my mom up there, I really liked it," Johnson told 406mtsports.com. "I felt like maybe I felt like a change of scenery. I love L.A. If I had the chance, I'd probably live here for the rest of my life, but I just want something different."
Missoula's different, all right. His high school is 12 miles from the beach.
With those initial doubts dashed, Johnson announced his commitment to Montana on Monday via Twitter.
"Extremely excited to announce that I have committed to further my education and play football at the University of Montana," Johnson wrote.
The difference between L.A. and Missoula stood out for Johnson on his visit.
"In L.A., everything is more hectic," Johnson said. "I liked the calmness of the city and the atmosphere. When I was there, everything slowed down. I really liked that."
Johnson also appreciated the relationship he had with Montana's coaches.
"They treated me well, encouraging texts before games," Johnson said. "Answering any questions I had. When I was up there, they made me feel like I was a part of the team already. They showed me a lot of love."
He had offers from UC Davis and San Diego, but Montana felt like the best fit.
"I talked it over with my coaches and my mom," Johnson said. "They asked me what I was really waiting for in a school. I didn't really know. Looking back at my options, when I was up there I really liked it. I liked everything about it and it was my best option. The question that I was asked that I couldn't really answer was, 'What school, if they were to come around and offer me, would change my mind' and I couldn't answer that."
He only has one more guaranteed game left of his senior season, as it's a toss-up whether his Cubs will make the playoffs.
"I'm kinda sad," Johnson said about his high school football career coming to an end. "I tried to not take the season for granted. I tried early on in the season to make it known that this would be the last time I would play with my friends and the kids in my high school. I think I'm gonna miss it a lot. It's been a lot of fun."
As Johnson closes the door on high school football, another door is opening on his college football career.
It's one journey he's excited for.
"I'm excited to develop not just as a player but as a person," Johnson said. "I'm excited to see what this will make of me later when I look back on the four or five years that I'm there."
Other verbal commits in Montana's 2018 class include: Loyola Sacred Heart's David Koppang, Kalispell Glacier's Jackson Pepe and Drew Turner, Eureka's Garrett Graves, Helena Capital's Conor Quick, Billings Senior's Gabe Sulser, Missoula Sentinel's Nick Germer, Valier's Colten Curry, Nash Fouch of Woodinville, Washington, Matthew Robinson of San Juan Capistrano, California, Sean Anderson of Buckeye, Arizona, Tyler Ganoung of Portland, Oregon and Lorenzo Brown of Las Vegas.