Qb Michael Johnson Getting Illini Interest

With the 2010 class completed, the Illinois coaches have turned their full attention to the class of 2011. Paul Petrino's dynamic offense requires an intelligent, effective quarterback to be successful. One quarterback prospect under consideration is Michael Johnson.

Michael Johnson, the star quarterback of Briarcrest Christian Schools in Memphis, is being courted by some of the best schools in the country.

"My first letter came from Virginia my sophomore year. They wanted me to attend a camp. The real recruiting letters began on September 1st of last year. UCLA, Illinois, Boston College, Georgia, Sryacuse, Arkansas, Memphis, Mississippi, and Tennessee have shown interest in me. Oklahoma has become interested recently. Illinois was one of the first."

The 6'-6", 200 pound quarterback has already begun exploring his options.

"I went to games at Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Memphis last season. Actually, Coach [Larry] Porter at Memphis called me yesterday. He says I'm the number one quarterback in the state and they'll probably offer me.

"I'll also be going to a junior day at Ole Miss this weekend. Last summer I went to camps at Georgia and Ole Miss. These visits also allow me to see the academic side of the schools."

His childhood favorite is showing interest in him, despite a recent coaching change.

"I talked to the wide receivers coach from Tennessee yesterday, and he said he'll be recruiting me pretty hard. I have a sister who goes there, and I'm a big Peyton Manning fan. I've been following his career since he played at Tennessee. I love how he's a leader on the field and learns from his mistakes."

Illinois and Coach Ron Zook was one of the first schools to be interested in the Tennessee quarterback.

"Every time that I've watched them play they seem to play tough. Their players go into every game prepared and play as hard as they can. Even if they lose, they just move on to the next game and focus only on that.

"Coach Zook has done a great job. The Petrinos love quarterbacks, which could be an advantage for me. I'd love to play for a quarterback kind of guy."

If Johnson has one advantage over most other players, it's his height.

"I always knew my size would be an advantage. People have been telling me that since I was young. I knew I would have a chance to get to the next level.

"Size isn't everything though. I want to improve my footwork this offseason because that will help with my accuracy and my ability to roll out of the pocket. I'm not just a pocket passer, I can make throws on the run." Johnson is dedicated to becoming the best player he can be.

"I started workouts and conditioning last month. I'm working with a quarterbacks coach every Tuesday and Thursday to help me improve every aspect of my game. I'd like to gain 15 pounds before next season as well."

Johnson's team finished their season 7-5 with an exit in the second round of the playoffs. His expectations for next season are far greater.

"I think we'll be better. I really think so. It's our coach's third year, and I've always said that my senior year we would win state. I'm going to get my team in the weight room and prepared. We're going to be 100% better than last year.

"We're only losing two seniors, the tight end and the running back, and I think we can fill those. We struggled on defense last year, and we're losing a few more guys on that side of the ball. Offensively, we're a strong team. We averaged something like 40 points per game."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories