Coach's Corner: George Novak

Inside, Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh) head coach George Novak talks about Colorado commit Devan Johnson. Also, Novak brings the news that Johnson, and fellow Pittsburgh prepster and CU commit Lamont Smith were recently named to play in the prestigious Big 33 All-Star game, which pits the best preps in Pennsylvania and Ohio against each other.

Devan Johnson was a jack of all trades for Woodland Hills the past couple years, as he played three or four positions.

Johnson tripped to Colorado in October, the same weekend Patrick Gates and Ryan Miller were on their officials. Also of note, Johnson's half-brother, Kevan Barlow, has played six years as a running back in the NFL, and is currently on the New York Jets roster.

BSN spoke with Woodland Hills coach George Novak:

BSN: Devan played a lot of positions for you the past couple years, didn't he?
: Yeah, we moved him around. We tried him at tailback a little bit this year. He was a flanker for us. Last year he was a tight end and we used him at linebacker, too. He's quite an athlete.

He was selected to the Big 33 All-Star game, which is the top 33 football players in Pennsylvannia against the top 33 in Ohio. It's one of the largest all-star games in the country. (The game will be played in June.) The thing they promote is I guess every Super Bowl game that's ever been played has had a player who played in this Big 33 game.

Big 33 Super Bowl History

BSN: What position do you think Devan's best suited to play at the next level?
: We had him on offense more than defense. They selected him to play defense in this all-star game because of his speed at linebacker. He could play either side of the ball. He has more experience offensively, but he's a raw talent.

BSN: Do you think he's done growing?
: He might get a little bigger.

BSN: What is he, 6-foot, about 220?
: He was about 232 during the season. And he can run. 4.5. Big strong kid. He was the strongest kid in the weightroom on our team.

BSN: Do you know what he liked about Colorado?
: He wanted to get out of Pennsylvania. He liked the school and the coaches. He liked it a lot.

BSN: Colorado hasn't recruited a lot of guys out of Pittsburgh. What is Colorado's name in that area? I know the Steelers have had several former Buffaloes on their roster the past 15 years.
: It's big. There's two kids, Devan and Lamont Smith from Central Catholic (commited to CU this year). He got selected for that all-star game, too. He has great speed. You got two of the top 33 players in Pennsylvania.

I think kids want to be different nowadays. Distance isn't as big a thing as it was 20 or 30 years ago. So he wanted to get out of Pittsburgh. I think he liked the campus (in Boulder). And Coach Hagan recruited him. He liked him a lot. He went out there and liked it, and that was it.

BSN: You played against Lamont Smith's team this year. Tell me your impressions of him.
: Well, he was injured that game. We were fortunate. We beat them 17-14 when they were ranked 7th in the nation. They were in Sports Illustrated and everything. But he's very fast. Breaks tackles. Very quick. He played tailback for them, but I think they recruited him as a cornerback. The last two years he's been one of the leading rushers in Western Pennsylvania.

BSN: I think they may want to put the ball in his hands some at Colorado, too.
: Yeah, maybe to return kicks. I don't think he's big enough to be a tailback, but he could play some slot. He's more a corner size or receiver size.

You got two good kids.