RECRUITING: Six Still On Stafon Johnson's Radar

If only it were great weather and marvelous beaches that would factor in his equation of choosing a college home for the next four years, Stafon Johnson of Los Angeles (CA) Dorsey would probably stay at home. He's just a short drive from USC and those incredible California beaches. Weather and beaches are nice, but there will be a few more factors in Johnson's equation before he makes a final choice. He's narrowed his decision to six schools and he knows the decision won't be easy.

(Stafon Johnson profile)

Johnson is a 6-0, 200-pounder who is among the best running backs in the country. He's also one of the best safeties in the country, something that only complicates the recruiting process.

"It's narrowed down to Florida, Miami, USC, Cal, Michigan, Tennessee, and Oklahoma," said Johnson Sunday evening. "About half are recruiting me for both positions and the other half are just recruiting me at running back."

Johnson has put a lot of thought into recruiting and he's found positives that will make saying no to five of the six schools on his list very difficult when he has to make that final decision.

FLORIDA: "Florida is recruiting me at running back, but they would take me as a safety too. Obviously the coach, Coach Urban Meyer has a big impact on certain kids. You can see how Utah made such an impact last year. That is going to help them out a lot, especially with the young kids they have. They are young but talented, so that is good too."

MIAMI: "Miami is recruiting me at both positions also. They will always have good safeties and Miami will always have a good team. They are a real good program."

SOUTHERN CAL: "They are recruiting me at running back, considering that they are awful young and a lot of young people want to go there for the exposure. Plus, a couple of coaches live basically in my neighborhood. Everyone asks a California kid, with one of the best teams in the nation in your back yard, where else would you go? Some people think different."

CALIFORNIA: "At Cal, Coach (Jeff) Tedford is a jewel. I see why a lot of the young cats are doing good and they say don't go to USC, go to Cal. He shows you that he cares about you on and off the field. Not just as a football player, but as a person. Me as a football player, I really appreciate stuff like that. That plays a big part in someone like me making a decision. They want me as a running back."

TENNESSEE: "Tennessee is recruiting me as a running back. I have a good chance of starting right off the bat. If I don't start I could come in real soon and get some playing time. I am not thrilled about red-shirting anywhere. I am not planning to do that when I go to college. They have had running backs come out of the league very successful."

OKLAHOMA: "Oklahoma, is recruiting me at running back and safety. Even though they fell short to USC last year they are still young. They still have Adrian Peterson and they think he and I are a lot alike as football player. They can see I can step right in his spot and it won't tail off. Then we could come up with a national championship one day."

When it comes time to make his final choice, he will seek the input of family and friends. That's part of his natural decision-making process already, but in the end, he knows that ultimately, he's the one who has to be happy so it will be his decision to make. What makes it easy for him is that his support group only wants him to be happy with his choice.

"My family … mom, dad, grandfather … all of them, they all let me know that they will help me with certain aspects if I need it, but my decision is my decision," he said. "Whether good or bad, it is my decision to start my life. It will be in my hands. They have no problem if I go far from home, Europe, Canada … it doesn't matter."

Johnson gets plenty of mail every day from the colleges on his list. Because it's a dead period for recruiting, he pretty much speaks to coaches only when he makes the call himself. That's allowing him to live a fairly normal life as he's getting prepped for a senior season that he hopes will be special. His days are fairly uncomplicated.

"I've been working out mostly," he said. "Schools can't really contact me, but I am getting a bunch of letters saying they want me and they haven't forgotten me. I call sometimes, but not as much lately."

School doesn't start until the second week in September in California so he pretty much has two full months to get ready to play football. In the meantime, as he's working out and getting ready, he will be giving extra thought to the biggest decision of his life.

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