Heels Look At In-State QB

The North Carolina coaches have attempted to visit every high school in the state almost as much to spread goodwill as to seek out new prospects for the future. But on a recent stop along this territorial odyssey was a visit to one of the state's winningest programs over the last two years – where the clear focus was on quarterback Steve Johnson.

An unwritten rule based purely on logic states for a program to be successful on a national scale, it must win the battle inside its own borders. Heartily flanked by top ACC and SEC schools, perhaps no one knows this better than John Bunting and his staff.

High publicized recruiting losses to the likes of Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and N.C. State, among others, is a major concern for Carolina's fifth-year coach.

But indicative of the rejuvenated interest in the Tar Heel state, all four of UNC's heralded 2006 commitments come from within its borders, and a quarterback from High Point Central – which combined for 22 wins in during his sophomore and junior campaigns – could become an addition to that list.

Steve Johnson attended the Shrine Bowl Combine this past weekend in Chapel Hill.

Over the course of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound signal caller completed 259-of-479 passing attempts (.541) for 4,080 yards with 37 touchdowns.

In his first year starting, he led his team to the state semifinals and a 10-4 record. Last year, the Bison finished 12-1, losing only to Greenboro Dudley in the second round.

"Steve is an intelligent football player," High Point Central coach Todd Staley said. "He's getting a lot of notice. He's a very strong quarterback with a very strong arm. He's benched 185 pounds like 15 times, which is really good for a quarterback."

Johnson also has good feet. According to Staley, he's been clocked at 4.6 seconds over 40 yards consistently while participating in the Asheville Reynolds combine and at the Elite 11 in Atlanta.

"To be a quarterback of his size, he runs well," Staley said.

But here's the kicker: Johnson is the nephew of former N.C. State and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Evans and cousin to Daniel and Andrew Evans, a quarterback and wide receiver tandem from Raleigh Broughton and currently on the Wolfpack roster.

"He has no official offers at this point, but he's been looked at by everybody," Staley said. "Almost every school in North Carolina, Virginia, and some beyond that are taking a look at Steve.

"He's going to be a good football player no matter where he goes."

Whether or not the Tar Heels choose to offer Johnson may not ultimately be as important as the inroad they have made into the Bison's rapidly improving program. Along with sharing a long friendship with UNC assistant coach Kenny Browning, Staley is beginning just his third season at High Point Central after leaving Spartanburg (S.C.) Dornan where he helped coach former UNC great Ryan Sims.

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