Port Arthur RB Johnson Has Three Favorites

Port Arthur Memorial tailback James Johnson has received scholarship offers from a number of programs, but told Cyclone Nation Wednesday night that three programs are at the top of his list.

"Iowa, Iowa State and LSU are my three favorites right now," said Johnson, who is ranked as the 30th tailback in the nation by TheInsiders.

Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Arkansas and SMU are also involved with the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder. Johnson says that he won't start taking official visits until after his senior season has concluded, then make a decision after exploring all of his opportunities.

Being a running back in the state of Texas, Johnson says it would be a plus to compete in the Big 12 and that he watched the feats of other top running backs such as Ricky Williams of Texas and Ennis Haywood of ISU.

"It would be good to stay in the Big 12, because they have had a lot of players come out of the Big 12, like Ricky Williams," he said. "I also thought Haywood was a good running back. He got a lot of carries and was a power back and slasher."

Johnson had this in particular to say about the Cyclones: "I think they've got a good football program. I've talked to the coaches on the phone. They sound alright to me. I think they've got some really good ones on their staff."

Through the first two games of his senior year, the talented tailback has gotten off to a fairly slow start, rushing for 97 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries. Johnson's team, which is the consolidation of three different high schools from a year ago, is off to a 1-1 start after a 24-14 victory over Lamar last weekend.

Memorial coach Butch Colbert feels that as the new team becomes more comfortable with each other, Johnson will start to flourish.

"We have played two very tough opponents and he has yet to reach 100 yards, but he's still among the leaders in our area, in terms of rushing," said Colbert. "It's just a matter of time before he breaks out. Everything with our team hasn't meshed just yet. Once that happens I think he'll cut loose."

Colbert has no doubts about just how good his star tailback can be at the next level.

"James is a definite Division I prospect," he said. "Whoever gets him is going to get a great back. He's a real natural runner. He has good size, real good speed and the natural instinct in terms of vision. He can make something happen when there's very little blocking there. To this point, he's the best natural running back that I've coached.

"He runs up inside and is a real tough runner that can find the holes. He isn't a guy that runs people over all the time. We run the stretch play with him and he always tends to find the opening, whether it be the cutback or straight up. He finds things well."


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