BYU showing great interest in Ragin

Coach Poppinga of BYU is at it again. The Cougar outside linebacker coach has been diligently searching for the next defensive star to represent Coach Mendenhall's vaunted defensive group known for effort and hard hitting. Squarely zeroed in between the Cougar crosshairs, one Oregonian prospect just might be what they're looking for.

As college coaches from all across the country scour the nation's high schools in search for their program's perfect fit, Johnny Ragin is one that has been pinned on BYU's list of potential players that fits the bill.

"I'm 6'2", 208 pounds and I run a 4.59 forty yard dash," said Ragin, who plays for Wilsonville High School. "I have a 34-inch vertical and I run a 4.32 shuttle. I bench press 285 pounds one time, and I squat 455 pounds one time. I can power clean 285 pounds one time."

While Ragin can dunk a basketball with ease, his sport of choice outside football had been baseball. That is, until he hurt his should and had to put America's favorite pastime behind him to focus more on track.

"I don't really play basketball and that's not really my sport," he said. "I play football and run track. This is going to be my first year running track. I've been a baseball player my whole life and hurt my shoulder this past season, so I'm just going to move onto track because I'm getting more exposure for football right now."

Ragin will compete this season in several track events.

"Yeah, I'm going to the 100 meters, 400x1 and the long jump, I think," said Ragin.

As for football, Ragin plays on both sides of the ball.

"I play outside linebacker or strong safety on defense, and I play running back and I get put out at the slot receiver position on offense."

Ragin runs the ball, but he's also utilized as a fullback where he brings that aggressive outside linebacker mentality to bear. However, when necessary, he can also turn to a more finesse style of player.

"Well, they usually had me at fullback because I can block, so I only had 43 carries but I had 324 yards and three rushing touchdowns," Ragin said. "I also had 11 receptions for 95 yards and three [receiving] touchdowns.

"On defense, I had 42 total tackles with four sacks and seven pass deflections. I always try to bring that aggression to both sides of the ball, but when I'm at fullback or running back I turn the aggression down a bit and turn on the finesse mode to do my thing."

Wilsonville High School plays in Oregon's 5A division and is located around the Portland metropolitan area. One of the star players for the Wildcats, he also has his sights set on playing at the next level.

"Yeah, I'm a fan of all the schools, but if I had to pick a dream school it would probably be either Cal or Oregon," said Ragin. "I haven't received any offers yet.

"I feel like there's a couple of schools that are pretty close to offering me," Ragin said. "I have to just keep working hard and show them why they should. I feel like not just yet but maybe in a couple of months that Oregon State could lean towards offering me, then possibly BYU as well because I've been in contact with them quite a bit."

BYU's outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga is the one from the Cougar coaching staff that discovered, evaluated and is recruiting the talented Oregon athlete.

"We've been talking for about a month now and he's been getting me more familiar with Brigham Young University and the football program they've got there," said Ragin. "He also has been learning more about me as an athlete, a student and as a person. Overall, we've just been getting to know about each other a little more.

"I just have to have a great season next year and show them that I'm always looking to improve. I just have to stay in contact with him and let him know how everything is going. Hopefully things will take off from there."

Ragin has done a little homework of his own.

"BYU has a great business program at BYU, and I would like to major in business management in college," Ragin said. "They have a rich-in-tradition football team and academically as well."

Meanwhile, Ragin attended Oregon State's invitation-only summer camp last year.

"I did very well as a wide receiver. The coaches were very impressed with me and they got in touch with my high school coach and told him that they were very impressed with me at the camp. I've been in contact with them through mail and have been in contact with them through email."

In order to get any look by BYU, a student athlete has to have about a 3.3 high school GPA. Ragin has exceeded that mark.

"Aside from the football side of things, I've maintained a 4.0 grade point average since the seventh grade," he mentioned. "I'm set to take the SAT this May, so I plan on doing well in that to keep schools interested in me both academically and athletically."

However, a player might be good enough to play football at BYU and have a 4.0 GPA and still not receive a scholarship offer from the Cougar program. The athlete must also live an exemplary life off the field that meets a high moral standard.

"I'm always doing everything that I can in the community," said Ragin. "I'm always doing volunteer work and get a lot of satisfaction helping others out. Since my freshman year, I've logged in around 35 hours of volunteer work and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Ragin, who is Catholic, attends church every Sunday, and he spends a lot of time with his church doing charity work in the local community.

"A lot of it is through the church and we'll go down to St. Rafael's in Portland. It's like a soup kitchen place where we serve food there. During the holidays we deliver food boxes and sometimes set up for church mass and stuff like that."

When evaluating colleges, Ragin will look for one criteria in general.

"Well, it all comes down to what college feels like my home away from home sort of thing," he said. "Oregon State is like an hour away but that's just as far away to me as, say, a Miami school or Brigham Young University because it's a different world and I'm still away. I just want to go to a school where I feel most comfortable and have the most success."

Total Blue Sports Top Stories