Rich Rodriguez has long said he covets competition in his program, and no position in greater need of an upgrade in that area than quarterback. After first addressing the problem with his 2009 recruiting class, he is looking to fortify the position in 2010. Inkster (MI) dual threat signal caller Devin Gardner was the first piece of the puzzle. Now the Wolverines are in search of an excellent complement to him, and they just may have found it that player Silsbee, TX athlete Jeremy Johnson.
The 6-2, 180-pounder is quickly becoming one of the one coveted dual-threat quarterbacks in the South. His big play potential helped propel his team into the second round of the state playoffs last season and has even caused some programs to chase him for other positions. However, he is intent on lining up behind center.
"(Texas) offered me for defensive back and kickoff return," Johnson reported. "I'm not playing defensive back. I barely played it in high school and I'm not trying to change my ways. I'm a quarterback. I had over 1800 yards passing, 800 yards rushing, 20 touchdowns, five picks and 10 touchdowns rushing. If you play deep and get into a zone, I'll use my feet on you. If you press me, I get out of the pocket quick and get a pass off. It is going to be kind of hard to hold me."
One glimpse o Johnson's tremendous speed and it's easy to see why he is hard to hold.
"I'm 6-2, 180, and I run a 4.38," he stated. "In track I run the 100, the 4x100 and 4x200. My fastest 100m time is 10.52."
Many coaches can't help but envision utilizing that speed elsewhere on the football field, but all of the projections in the world can't overcome Johnson's desire to have a shot as a signal caller. Key in the evaluation of his suitors is whether or not they give him that opportunity. At this point the majority of them are saying they will. Joining Texas on Johnson's offer list are West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, Purdue, Missouri, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss and recently Michigan. The Maize & Blue's presence has caused a sudden change atop his leaderboard.
"Probably like two to three weeks ago, (Michigan) offered me a scholarship," Johnson recalled. "I was kind of happy because I've been a Michigan fan since I was little. The player I liked was Braylon Edwards."
When asked for his list of favorites two programs that have become pretty acquainted with one another in recent years received immediate mention.
"Michigan and West Virginia," Johnson said referring to the top two programs tied at the top.
The Wolverines and Mountaineers share a number of traits that are often times deterrents for many recruits, but in the race for Johnson they are non factors. The first would-be hurdle is distance.
"Well being homesick is not really a thing to me," Johnson explained. "My mom, the way she's been talking, she said that she'll move anywhere I go. She'll probably be down there every weekend (laughing). I'm looking at the school, team wise, how I fit in the offense, and the coaches. Do they really want me? If I go to a school, I want the coaches to really be interested because that tells you how they'll treat you when you are there."
The second would-be hurdle is the cold winter weather.
"Me and my dad were talking about that," remembered Johnson. "I'm going to have to get used to it anyways because in the NFL you never know -- any Sunday the weather might get bad, so get used to it."
The third would-be hurdle is depth. Each program landed talented signal callers on the recruiting trail last year.
"(Depth) really doesn't matter because competition is something you have to deal with at every level. I would just have to work harder."
In the final analysis, visits will loom large in the weeding out process for both aforementioned programs, and any other school looking to make a push. Johnson plans to use his time on the various campuses to answer the most prevalent questions in his recruitment.
"I want to check their facilities out and the coaches," Johnson stated. "I want see how I interact with the players and listen to them and listen to what they say about the school. The players will tell you the truth how the school really is. I'll just get different replies from them."
"I'm hoping to make (a decision) before football season starts," he later added.
Johnson has yet to finalize his itinerary but indicated trips to Michigan and West Virginia are likely in the coming months.