'08 Unwrapped: Johnson Bademosi

For much of January, Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College High School's Johnson Bademosi appeared close to a college decision. As the month closed, the defensive back spoke to The Bootleg about his recruiting experience.

Johnson Bademosi has publicly pulled the trigger and has chosen to take his game across the country for college.

"It's all wrapped up," Bademosi shares. "I'm committed to Stanford."

"It was kind of relieving, actually," he relates of making his decision. "The whole situation, not that it was stressful, but it was just good to know where I was going to be, where my future was. It felt great."

"It's a really big relief," Bademosi continues. "It wasn't anything that any other school didn't do because all of the other schools I was looking at were great places. Maryland was a great place. Harvard was a great place. All of these places were really good. It's just I felt like Stanford was the best fit for me. All of these schools offer a lot, but again I just had the gut feeling at Stanford."

As Bademosi's recruitment wound down, the Cardinal competed primarily with Maryland and Harvard to win his commitment. In addition to offers from Stanford, Maryland, and an array of Ivy League programs, Bademosi also claimed offers from Syracuse and Army. Beyond those previously reported suitors, he attracted attention from other major football programs but maintained a clear preference for the Cardinal, Terrapins, and Crimson.

"Illinois was showing a lot of interest for a little while," Bademosi reveals. "I guess right at the tail end of things UCLA and Vanderbilt started showing interest. But it was kind of late, so I decided not to pursue those."

Ultimately, he chose to pursue the scholarship offer extended by Stanford, with a January official visit serving as a particularly pivotal event in his recruitment. The visit experience left Bademosi with what he described as a gut feeling regarding Stanford.

"Where do I start," Bademosi queries as he begins to rattle off attractive features for Stanford. "Beautiful campus. In the Pac-10, you play some of the nation's best football teams. [Stanford's] program is definitely on the rise. I have good relationships with Coach Harbaugh, Coach White, Coach Shaw. I really enjoyed spending my time with the players there. The academics, it's just phenomenal. So there's just a lot to say about Stanford."

When he did decide to go with his gut instinct to choose Stanford, Bademosi relayed the word to Shaw, his primary recruiter who made an in-home visit early in the week. The D.C. product was gratified by the enthusiasm expressed by Shaw and other Stanford coaches he has dealt with.

"They were excited," Bademosi happily says of the Stanford coaches' reaction to his decision. "They were as excited as I was, which really made me happy. Definitely they're excited about me and I'm excited about the program. And I'm excited about coming out and being able to play in the Pac-10 and just around the guys that are there."

While Bademosi's official visit to Stanford sold him on the school's merits and gave him a special feeling about his fit with the school, his recruitment publicly dragged on through January as he awaited a crucial final development. Earlier this week, he heard that he had been accepted by Stanford's Office of Undergraduate Admission, paving the way for his private gut instinct to become a public commitment.

"I heard [on Monday] that I was admitted," he says. "I was extremely excited."

"I went through the whole application process," Bademosi continues. "You know, all 10 short answers and long essays. I spent like six weeks on it. It was a tough application, but I got through it. I actually learned a lot about myself."

"I felt really different because that's not something I'm used to hearing," he says of the thrill of being accepted. "[It was] reflective, heartening to hear that. I felt really, really good about myself. It felt like all my hard work paid off, both academically and in football. I was extremely happy to hear that."

As the new commit relates, the Stanford coaches share his excitement and are happy to gain the services of a quick defensive back prospect with a reputation for hard hitting. With Bademosi's commitment, the Stanford coaches will bring in an incoming recruiting class that includes as many as six future defensive backs, a group that also includes Delano Howell, Michael Thomas, Harold Bernard, Quinn Evans, and Marcus Turner. Even accounting for the very high likelihood that Howell will find a home on offense as a running back, the incoming class looks poised to fundamentally shake up Stanford's depth across the defensive backfield.

For his part, Bademosi brings quickness and size that could conceivably slot him at either safety or cornerback.

"I guess I could play a lot of different places," he concurs. "I would guess that I would probably play at safety, but I'll play wherever I can get on to the field."

"I played linebacker, safety, and corner in high school," Bademosi shares of his diverse position experience to date. I'm just the kind of player who, you know, I play whatever I can, do whatever I can for the team. I played at corner this year. It was my first year playing at cornerback and I did really well. I was second team [all-Metro Area]. I was all-conference [Washington Catholic Athletic Conference]. At the All-DC Sports Fan Banquet I guess I was [named] one of the hardest hitters in the league. I didn't know that but I guess that's just the way I play. There aren't that many corners that like to come up and tackle but I do enjoy that. That's just my style of play."

Bademosi's hard hitting reputation perhaps draws from his background as a standout rugby player. While football will punch his ticket to Stanford, many of his high school accolades have come on the rugby pitch, where he has played on the national level and received recognition as one of the top rugby players nationally in his age group.

"First of all, I come from a really good rugby program at Gonzaga," he says as he modestly deflects attention away from himself and toward his nationally ranked team. "We were sixth in the nation last year. Just before that we've always been, I guess, sixth or fifth in the nation. I've been playing rugby as long as I've been playing football. I just have a passion for that as well. I'm really passionate about both rugby and football, both sports."

Having played rugby since the fifth grade, the football defensive back and rugby wing is aware that his move to the ranks of major college football may spell the end of his rugby playing days. With that realization, he is looking forward to his senior season of rugby at Gonzaga.

"I am playing rugby again," Bademosi says of his plans for the rest of his last year of high school. "I really do enjoy rugby. This could possibly be my last year playing rugby, so I'm going to do that. I'm just going to continue to work hard and do the things that got me where I am right now."

"Rugby season officially starts the first week of March," he shares. "I wasn't able to practice with the team during the fall because I was with football, but they've been practicing since November. We have a strong program. Every year we do really well and we just try to do better the following year."

Aside from looking forward to one more season of rugby, Bademosi also has his mind focused on getting started with his work with the Stanford football team.

"I'm probably going to head down mid-to-early summer so I can get as caught up as I possibly can with all the other guys," Bademosi says. "Just try to get fast and strong for the season so that I can play as early as possible, which is one of my main goals." 

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