Johnny Sears, Home on Break, Talks Michigan

It's been an uncertain summer for incoming Michigan freshman Johnny Sears of Fresno, Calif. Questions abounded regarding whether the talented defensive back would see the field this season or head to prep-school, with his name even appearing on the Milford Academy roster. Sears, home in California on break, participated in an informal workout on Monday with his former high school team. stopped by the workout for a chat.

Edison High School in Fresno, Calif., is quickly becoming known as a defensive back factory. The Tiger coach responsible for the development of the position, Tony Perry, has placed nine players into Division 1-A programs, including incoming Michigan freshman Johnny Sears. However, Sears was not a known prospect when Perry forced Michigan defensive backs coach Ron English, on a recruiting trip to observe another Perry protege - cornerback Robert Peele now at Cal, to take a peek at his other cornerback. "Ron had never heard of Johnny," Perry said. "When he got here to see Robert I told him he needed to look at Johnny. Ron was amazed at the kid and it wasn't too much longer after that that Johnny got the offer and committed. If I hadn't done that Johnny wouldn't be at Michigan now."

Johnny Sears
Michigan defensive back Johnny Sears claims to be up to 181-pounds.

The story is familiar to members of Sears was an unknown talent because he had transferred to Edison from McLain High School in Fresno his junior year. According to California Interscholastic Federation transfer rules, Sears was required to sit out his junior season. As such he played J.V. ball. However, Michigan was not the only school interested in Sears. "USC had seen him too and was very interested," Perry said. "But Ron jumped on him right away. After Johnny committed to Michigan, USC was all over him trying to get him to change him mind. He was set on Michigan though." Sears maintained all along he was a Michigan fan growing up, and he wore the No. 2 in honor of former Michigan great Charles Woodson.

Fast forward a year ... and Sears is realizing his dream. He flew to Ann Arbor on July 3 to join his future teammates during summer workouts. One major roadblock to Sears actually being on the fall roster was the question of whether or not he would qualify. The young man suffered from appendicitis at the end of his junior year, and missed the end of classes, including finals. The entire summer has been one of anticipation not only for Sears, but for Michigan fans who are looking forward to seeing Sears on the field. It appears as though those wishes will come true. "We've got all the scores and grades in and Johnny is qualifed and will be at Michigan in the fall," Perry said.

Sears returned home on break and participated in an informal workout with his former Edison teammates. He was now a mentor to the players who will follow him as a Tiger. Sears led a small group of defensive backs through drills, some of which he brought with him from his month at Michigan.

When GBW first observed Sears last summer, he was still recovering from his appendectomy, and so he was rail thin. However, one thing was apparent - the kid had raw skills rarely seen on a player his age. His hips turned as if on grease and his footwork was precise. And he was fast, blazing fast. During the season his speed made up for his lack of experience at the position. Opposing receivers were able to get by him at times, but Sears was able to quickly and easily catch them once again. He would not have that luxury at the next level.

Sears says he was now up to 181-pounds, and it was apparent he had been a fast learner during his month working out with his teammates. Former Edison player Danny Jones, who spent time in the CFL, was on hand participating in the workouts. Sears and Jones went head to head on several occasions during the night and the new Wolverine showed he had definitely been working on his timing. Of course, a summer evening workout isn't a firm indicator of future success, but given our extensive observations of Sears, the improvement in his ability to stick with a receiver after initial contact was readily apparent.

Speaking of the month in Ann Arbor, Sears commented on the experience. "The speed of those guys is amazing," he said. "I think (Steve) Breaston and (Jason) Avant are the top receivers, for sure. I'm getting settled in and everyone has been great. I think I'm going to be rooming with Jason Forcier when I get back. The town of Ann Arbor is fun and I like it."

Sears returns to Michigan on Saturday, and believes he will get playing time this season. "If they feel like they need to red-shirt me I'll do that," he said. "I've learned a lot since I've been there and I think I can play with those guys."

Sears was assigned the No. 25 for this season, but doesn't expect to wear the number for long. "I'm hoping I can get the No. 4 after Darnell (Hood) leaves," he said. "Woodson is my hero and I wore his number in high school, but (Shawn) Crable is going to be around for another two years, and I want to make a number for myself."

Johnny Sears
Sears, home on a break and working out with his former team, goes one-on-one against former Edison standout Danny Jones.

Johnny Sears
Sears instructs the Tiger players on drills he learned at Michgian

Johnny Sears
Sears shows off a cut physique

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