KU wide receiver Kerr Johnson defies expectations at SRJC

Santa Rosa Junior College coach Lenny Wagner on new Kansas WR Kerr Johnson.

Santa Rosa Junior College coach Lenny Wagner stood on the field with wide receiver Kerr Johnson and his parents before the final Bear Cub home game of the season.

“You probably got the least amount of coaching of anybody on our team,” Wagner told Johnson. “It’s because you do everything right. You end up spending your time with all the guys that screw everything up. The guy that’s most deserving don’t get the coaching because he’s doing everything right.”

Johnson was SRJC’s top receiver both years he played there, and finished his sophomore campaign with 50 catches for 894 yards.

“He was our No.1 receiver for two years, and there probably wasn’t one time a coach had to tell him he made a mistake.” Wagner said. “I’m not kidding. If you show him how to do it, he did it. It’s like you only had to coach 10 positions when he was on the field.”

Johnson committed to the Jayhawks in mid-December and joined his new team on campus earlier this week.

“He was a leader in the off-season, a leader in the classroom and just did everything the right way,” Wagner said about Johnson. “You’ll never hear him talk about himself. He’s a quiet leader. What a player.

“They’re getting a guy that is never going to be any kind of issue or maintenance for them. There will never be an attitude problem, and on top of that he’s a great football player. Kansas is getting a dream come true.”

Johnson played for Analy High School (Sabastopol, Cal.), which is a mere five miles away from SRJC. His high school coach played for Wagner, and his high school offensive coordinator was the head coach that originally hired Wagner at SRJC.

Wagner was well aware of Johnson’s talent at Analy, which finished 13-1 his senior season as he contributed 50 passes for 1,209 yards.

“He’s tremendous and was totally overlooked coming out of high school, like a lot of our guys are,” Wagner said. “It’s common for a lot of players that come play for us for a couple years and then everybody wants them.

“We have 25-30 kids each year sign scholarships, and none of those kids were recruited in high school. We have 33 kids signing this year, and none of them got recruited in high school. We’re used to it. We had a first-round draft pick a couple years ago, Jason Verrett and a second-round draft pick Koa Misi with the Dolphins. We also had players with the Colts, Raiders and Falcons. We’re getting these kids that get overlooked and then a year later everybody wants them. It’s one of the reasons I like it here.”

Wagner said Johnson consistently defied expectations, finishing plays in the end zone by breaking tackles and making people miss when it was assumed he would be stopped short.

“We talk a lot about being an inspiration to your teammates through your effort. Usually when a big play happens that elicits a big response, it was usually a result of some unbelievable effort and concentration,” Wagner said. “We talk about those being inspiring plays. The only way to make those plays is through effort and focus, and Kerr made play after play like that.”

Wagner believe Johnson will make a big impact for the Jayhawks, and he is capable of playing both inside and outside receiver.

“Some people that backed off him were in need of an outside guy and they wanted that guy to be 6-foot-3,” Wagner said. “We used him outside mostly, and he played really big. He went up over the top of guys and caught a lot of deep balls.”

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