RECRUITING: Mark Johnson Has Offer From Gators

Mark Johnson, the ferocious hitting machine that plays linebacker for Los Angeles (CA) Dorsey, watches the NFL on television a lot and there are several players whose game he likes a lot. However, rather than patterning his game after someone else, he would rather be the first Mark Johnson than the next Lawrence Taylor or Mike Singletary.

"I admire a lot of people in the pros," said the 6-4, 220-pounder. "Personally, I want to be better than all of them."

Being better means giving 100 percent on every play. Johnson wants to be so good that opponents have to know where he is on every play, and he's happiest when he's made a tackle for a loss.

"I try to force negative yards," he said. "I want to hurt the other team. Our goal for the defense this year is to hold defenses to negative yards. That should be possible. We came close last year but we will just have to work harder to get there."

To achieve goals like keeping teams to negative yards he will have to live up to the "hype." He's a team leader and he's aware that if he produces on the field, his teammates will follow his lead.

"I bring intensity to the field," he said. "I think I do my best for the team and I just try to lead. I would put my life on the line for my team."

It's no wonder that he intends to major in psychology in college. Johnson likes head games both against his opponents and ones that help his teammates.

"The human brain is very interesting to me," he said.

Dorsey made it to the Los Angeles championship game last year but came up just a bit short in its bid to be the best. Johnson and teammates Stafon Johnson and Jovon Hayes are the mainstays of the 2005 team that expects to make up for last year's "almost."

Johnson shared some thoughts of his two highly recruited teammates.

"Stafon, he is very humble and he wants to get the best out of himself and his teammates," he said about the running back/free safety who is one of the nation's top players. "He works hard in practice and he sets the examples for other players. He just tries to be the best he can be for himself and the team."

Hayes, who plays the line on both sides of the ball, is Dorsey's weight room warrior.

"Jovon sets a good example in the weight room," he said. "He has all the records in the weight room right now. He is a very hard worker and a great mentor for the younger kids."

Although it's a team with plenty of stars, Johnson sees his Dorsey teammates as a band of brothers with a mission to accomplish.

"We have a lot of very good players on our team," he said. "No one is playing for themselves. They are playing for the team, for Dorsey. That is what will make us good this year."

Spring football hasn't yet started in Los Angeles, where the school year goes until June 20. Right now, the big linebacker who enjoys math classes best, is getting himself ready for spring football and entertaining calls from college coaches. His list of schools that have offered include Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, USC, and Michigan, but Johnson said "a lot of schools are recruiting me hard."

Florida has offered and the Gators definitely have his attention. Although Gainesville is a continent away, he says distance isn't going to be a problem when it comes time for making his decision. There are other factors that allow Florida to make up any problem that distance might cause.

"They have a good program," said Johnson. "They just got Coach (Urban) Meyer from Utah, and that is going to put them back on the map. I know Josh Portis from Taft High School here in Los Angeles. I like Coach (Stan) Drayton … he is cool and I have talked to him. He is anxious about getting us down there."

The "us" he refers to are his high school teammates. Johnson, Johnson, and Hayes sounds like a law firm, but it three names the Gators would love to see roll across the fax machine on signing day 2006. Don't be shocked if all three end up doing just that.

"There is a chance we could all go to the same school," Johnson said.

He's already made up his list of priorities for any school that wants to recruit him.

"The number one thing is academics," he said. "I want to get the best education I can possibly get. The second thing is I want to make the transition from college to the NFL as quick as possible. I want to go top five. The school that will put me in that position best is where I want to go."

Mark Johnson is a monster linebacker from the west coast of the United States that is drawing attention in all four corners of the country. He won't tip his hand about where he might end up, but it's certain that the Florida Gators have his attention. Because the Gators have a critical need for linebackers, Mark Johnson certainly has Florida's attention.

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