When you see a guy that is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, runs a 4.7 forty, wins the Mississippi 4A state championship in the 110 hurdles and discus, you don't automatically think of a quarterback. But that is what Brookhaven High School's Jimmy Johns is. And he does it well
I saw Johns last year for the first time when his team played Vicksburg High School at the start of the season. While they lost a thrilling overtime game, I came away impressed with the athletic Johns due to his runing and passing ability and that size.
Even though I was impressed with what I saw, Johns doesn't even feel like that game was one of his better ones.
"It was a decent game but I had a hurt thigh and I couldn't really plant (my foot)", said Johns. "I think I threw for 4 touchdowns, but I wasn't very accurate."
He has another game in mind that he feels was better even though his team lost 25 to 20.
"I rushed for over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns against (eventual 4A state champion) Wayne County High School's defense," said Johns.
No matter which game was better, college coaches most definitely liked what they saw from Johns last season, at least based on the letters he has been receiving.
"I've received over 260 letters from over 30 schools," said Johns, who still appears to be a little in awe of all the attention that he is receiving.
Letters are great to receive, but, if you know anything about recruiting, you know it's the calls from college coaches in May that are the first real hint how serious colleges are. And like the letters, Johns is not in short supply of those.
"Mississippi State, Memphis, Ole Miss, Auburn, West Virginia, USM have called me," said the 16-year old Johns. "Iowa and Clemson are saving their calls for the end of May. There are probably others, but it's hard to remember them all."
Any scholarship offers among those calls?
"I have been (verbally) offered by Iowa, Auburn and USM," said Johns. "Coach Beamer from Mississippi State has called and they are on the verge of offering. Memphis is on the verge of offering. And Coach Trickett from West Virginia is on the verge of offering. Ole Miss got the word to me that they wanted to talk to me, so I called them and talked to Coach Cutcliffe. They are on the verge of offering me also."
With all these calls, have any of the coaches made an impression on Johns? At least two have, Mississippi State's Shane Beamer and Memphis' Chris Rumph.
"Coach Beamer has stood out," said Johns. "At first I thought that I wasn't getting any recognition from any of the in-state schools, but on May 1st, at about 9 o'clock (in the morning), Coach Beamer called me. He was the first coach to call me. He was straight up with me about the thing that State is going through with the NCAA. Anything I asked, he was straight up with me."
As for Coach Rumph, Johns said that, "he and I had maybe an hour conversation. I could talk to him like he was somebody in my family, somebody like an uncle."
With so many coaches obviously very interested in Johns, the next step in the recruiting process is the all-important summer camps. Although he plans on attending LSU's and Southwest Community College's 7 on 7 passing camps, Johns has a dilemma as far as attending any other camps.
"Basically, I work ten hours a day six days a week in construction, so I'm not going to have much time to go to camps," said Johns. "I get camps brochures every day. I want to go to Mississippi State's camp, Memphis, Auburn....there are so many that I would like to go to.
"I really wanted to go to Mississippi State's Senior Camp, but I don't know if I can make it due to working."
With numerous colleges sending letters, several calling and a few with verbal scholarship offers, have any stood out enough to be listed as favorites? Johns quickly named four, then thought for a few seconds and added two more to his list.
"This is not in order, but Mississippi State, Auburn, Clemson, Iowa........Alabama and USM," said Johns.
Look for future updates on this outstanding young quarterback.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.