Bloomington, Ind. – IU Assistant Coach Billy Lynch went to Gulfport, Fla., a year ago to see running back Josh Bellamy, but wound up coming away impressed with an up-and-coming quarterback named Orhian Johnson.
Lynch had tripped to Boca Ciego H.S. during the 2006 evaluation period and scouted Bellamy, who eventually signing with South Florida in February. But he couldn't help but notice Johnson, a 6-4, 184-pound ultra-athletic quarterback/free safety who was preparing for his junior season.
Now, Johnson is a three-star recruit according to Scout.com who has been getting attention from programs both near and far.
"(Lynch) said he was going to keep an eye on me, and he kept his word on that," Johnson said. "He said I was going to be one of the guys he liked for this year, and he got me the offer."
Lynch wound up offering Johnson a scholarship this spring after returning to Boca Ciego H.S. specifically to watch Johnson play. IU was the second to offer, coming on the heels of his first tender from Florida International.
There's plenty for IU, FIU, and others to like about Johnson, who amassed 1,100 yards of total offense a year ago on a team that went 5-5. He combines excellent size with even better athleticism, evidenced by the 40-inch vertical jump and 4.57 clocking in the 40 he recorded at the Scout.com Combine in Miami during the spring.
Those tools have attracted offers from a slew of schools, including South Florida, Indiana, Kansas, UConn and Florida International, while other big names such as Ohio State are also showing interest. While some are recruiting Johnson as an athlete who could wind up at wide receiver or in the secondary, Lynch wants Johnson for his quarterbacking skills.
"I like quarterback, but I also know I can play other positions," said Johnson. "With Indiana having the confidence in me to lead their offense, that's a big thing that they're willing to trust me with that."
Johnson said he's remaining wide open at this point with his recruitment, preferring to instead give other schools time to evaluate him while he gets a chance to take a closer look at his suitors. But he does admit there's a lot to like about Indiana.
"Indiana, with the offense they've got and how hard their players are working after they lost their head coach, they are a really good school," Johnson said. "They had a lot of big wins last year, and that stands out."
What stands out about Johnson, meanwhile, is his potential. He appears to be cut out of the same mold as current Hoosier quarterback Kellen Lewis, a blossoming quarterback who is every bit as dangerous with his ability to run the ball as throw it.
"(Lynch) says he likes how I like to have the ball in my hands," Johnson said. "He thinks I'm a playmaker, and that I go out and make it happen."
Indiana, UConn, Kansas and Florida International are the four schools that are recruiting Johnson as a quarterback and that have also offered, so they figure to get very serious looks before he makes his final decision. That decision is likely still a ways away, but Johnson does have a good idea what will go into his eventual decision.
"The coaching staff and my opportunity to get on the field are going to be important," Johnson said. "The staff will be who I'll be around for five years. It's almost like they're the family away from my family. The chance to get on the field, whether it's quarterback or somewhere else, that's big also. No one wants to just sit on the bench."
IU Targets Athletic Florida QB
Peegs.com Top Stories
Ten Takeaways: Maryland weekIndiana looks to snap their three game losing streak this week when they host the Maryland Terrapins at Memorial Stadium. Here are Ten takeaways from the Monday conversation with…
Haunted Hall of Hoops set for FridayIndiana will hold it's annual Haunted Hall of Hoops event this Friday.
OG on the pointYour best defender on the opposing team's point guard? Even if he's more than half a foot taller?