Sun Devils impressing Johnson

Whether it was a successful unofficial visit or developing a strong relationship with ASU coaches and players, the Sun Devils have been able to distinguish themselves among the various suitors for Upland (Calif.) safety James Johnson.

"I visited Arizona State last month and I really liked it," Johnson said. "I toured the campus, I saw where I would be living if I went there, I saw the uniforms they had and watched some film to see how I would fit in their scheme. I really got along with Coach Ball and liked talking to Coach Graham and just meeting all of the other coaches there."

"I'm being recruited by Coach Lorig and we have a very good relationship. Some coaches that are recruiting you, have a hard time relating to you but he's very easy to talk to. I feel very comfortable with him. So things are going really well with them and they are definitely one of my top schools."

Conversing with former Upland player and current ASU cornerback, Osahon Irabor, has only aided the school's cause in its recruiting efforts.

"I'm sure we'll talk more this summer about the program," Johnson said of his conversations with Irabor, "and I'm going to have a lot of questions for him the next time I see him. He doesn't even have one bad thing to say about the program and he loves the new coaches even though he got recruited by the other staff.

"He said that Arizona State is a great school that has great academics. He's not pressuring me to go there or anything like that. He's just giving me information."

It's no secret that first-year head Coach Todd Graham was brought in to change the culture of the Sun Devil program. His efforts are not only being applauded by those who follow the program, but also by someone like Johnson who is being pursued by the school.

"I really like the plan he has for the future of this school," Johnson remarked. "I like his personality and I like a coach that will push you and make things uncomfortable for you so you can get better. I like that better than a friendly coach that won't help you improve."

As a junior the 6-2 205-pound James Johnson posted 62 tackles, four passes defended and two interceptions for 12-1 Highlanders.

"Coach Lorig feels that I would be a great fit with Arizona State and I feel so as well," Johnson admitted. "He said that I can play all safety positions and that I'm both fast and can also tackle with a lot of impact. I don't care which (safety) position I play, I just want to play the position that will get me on the field the most."

Arizona (another school Johnson had visited), Fresno State, Houston, Nevada and Oregon State (which plans to visit) are some of the schools which have offered the Upland standout. Johnson added that ASU, Oregon State and Houston are recruiting him the hardest out all his suitors, and that UCLA has picked up their recruiting efforts as of late and could offer him down the road.

"I try to keep it all open and don't have favorites," Johnson commented. "But the schools that recruiting me the hardest are obviously standing out more than the rest. Those are the ones I will probably take official visits to later in the year.

"I really like the list of offers I have and things are going well (in recruiting). But I always know you can get new offers later on. I don't know when I will make my decision. It could be tomorrow, it could be on signing day. I'm looking for a school that has the scheme that suits me the best and one where I have a good relationship with the coaches."

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