Nothing Official, but Close for Juice

Chris "Juice" Johnson is ready for a big senior season at a big time program. Trinity Catholic in Ocala is a power in Florida high school football and produces star prospects annually. The next in line is Johnson, a true strong safety with freakish speed and strength attributes who uses those abilities to play both sides of the ball for TC. Juice has a college in mind as well.

Trinity Catholic should be gearing up for another run at the playoffs in 2010 and no doubt Chris Johnson will be a big part of that. "Juice" as his friends and teammates call him is expecting a lot from himself and his team.

"We have a great team and a lot of chemistry," Johnson said at the first annual Marion County Football Media Day held on Wednesday. "We are going to be pretty good. Our goal is to win state, if we don't then we are jinxed. We have been working hard and have great strength coaches to get us there.

Juice couldn't point out any particular unit on the team that is better than the other, rather he believes the unity of the group as a whole is what will put them over the top.

"The strength of the team is our leadership and character," Juice said. "We are based off of integrity, character, and excellence. Going to state is not just going to be based on talent, but who wants it more and knowing that there are 11 guys on the field that have each others' back."

Juice will be all over the field, on both sides of the ball, but prefers defense.

"I am going to play a little of everything. Running back, strong safety, I might even line up wide and play a little receiver," Juice said. "Whatever the coach needs and whatever I can do to help my team out is where I will play.

Trinity head coach John Brantley III knows what he gets from Juice and as much as he would like to have his talent everywhere at once, he understands the need to not tire his star player during games.

"He is going to play some tailback, play a little bit of strong side backer, and strong safety," Brantley said. "He will spot play on both sides of the ball, but I am a big believer in playing 22 starters I think you wear down over the course of the year. I would rather have a guy that is 80% of that guy going both ways and coach the other guy up. But, then there is a time and a place in a close game when you want to go to your best players and hunker down, and "Juice" is definitely one of those players."

Juice wants to play defense and that is where he is being recruited to play in college.

"It is better to hit people than to get hit, so I like strong safety," he said before answering whether or not he would go for the big hit or the interception. "It depends on where the game is at. If the game is on the line I want the interception, if we are way ahead I want to make the hit."

Juice has a good idea where he wants to go to play football at the collegiate level and could have a decision really soon.

"Maybe in a couple of weeks or a month or so," he said. "I know where I want to go and want to make the decision soon and well before signing day to focus on school, grades, and things like that."

What is keeping him from doing that?

"My test score, I really need to get that up and I have (a score) coming in in the next two weeks," he said.

For now he does have a top three programs of interest and all with one particular orange and blue flavor to them.

"My top schools are Florida, Louisville, and South Carolina," he said. "If you think about it there are all Gators in my top three. With coach Strong at Louisville and Coach Spurrier at South Carolina. I have been brought up in the Gator family, so it wouldn't make much sense not to go there."

He has a few reasons to like the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

"I got a chance to visit up there," he said. "It was a long ride, but real nice. They have two former Trinity Catholic players up there in Antonio Allen and Dion Lecorn. The coaches are real nice and lively, especially Coach Spurrier Jr. They also have a good defense."

Louisville is a place he hasn't visited, but he likes the coaching staff a great deal as well.

"Coach Ron Dugans is recruiting me at Louisville," he said. "I talk to Coach Strong like every other week and he is real fun. Just where Coach Strong comes from and what he stands for, a lot of guys like him and I want to see for myself."

Florida is of course the school that is 45 minutes up the road and a place he has been a fan of for quite some time. The Gators are the clear leader at this point.

"I have probably been to about 12 games," he said. "The program is amazing...if you have an offer to go to Florida and don't take it, you are crazy. They have the best facilities and everything. Coach Meyer is an awesome guy. Coach Heater and Coach Loeffler are great guys with good character. They put a lot of players in the NFL and it would be a blessing to go there.

"I like the defense and the different coverages and schemes. They are very tricky and I like moving around, they play a lot of man and I like playing man defense...I would fit in well if I went there."

What separates Juice from the rest of the pack in high school. It has to be his will to be the best.

"Desire...I want it more than anyone," he said. "If a guy is 6-5 or 6-7 and I am going against him and I am only 5-10...I am going to give him all I have, all 200 pounds of me. Football is not just about talent, it's about will and desire. You have to want it."

His coach believes Johnson is ready for the big time. Coach Brantley says that Juice has really digested the things that have gone on around him in his years at trinity Catholic.

"He's been at Trinity for all four years and has been around a lot of good players at our place," he said. "I think he has utilized those resources like talking to a John Brantley, Kadron Boone or Dion Lecorn, because he has always been looked at when all the scouts came by to see those guys and asked who that number four was. I think he is more mature he has handled well and is a great team captain."

"My decision is already set," said Chris Johnson when asked about a decision time. "I already talked to Coach Meyer and he knows I already want to be there. I guess you can call that a commitment because they know I already want to be there."

We'll all just have to wait on that test score.
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