2009 Intro: Brian Johnson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- While visiting Myers Park High School during the Evaluation Period to investigate Tyree Simpson, recruiters are discovering another prospect – Brian Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 212-pound defensive end.

"They see Tyree – he's just an athlete – and then all the sudden you look on film and you see Brian, too," Myers Park head football coach Jim Ruark said. "That really helps him get his name out."

Junior Season Highlights:

East Carolina, NC State, and South Carolina have been recruiting Johnson since the end of his junior season. However, schools like Illinois, North Carolina, and Tennessee started pursuing him after making the discovery during the spring.

"His motor never stops," Ruark said. "He really is a great pass rusher… He also has great lateral movement. We went to the Shrine Bowl [Invitation Combine] and he really looked good in the footwork drills. I think that's his advantage, that's what he does – he moves really well up and down the line of scrimmage."

Johnson has received written scholarship offers from Miami (Ohio) and Western Carolina. He has also received a verbal offer from NC State.

"NC State said I have a scholarship, but they haven't sent it in the mail yet," Johnson said. "[NC State] has been recruiting me for a long time."

UNC, however, is among the schools recruiting Johnson the hardest. He and area recruiter Tommy Thigpen speak regularly.

"He hasn't said anything yet [regarding an offer]," Johnson said. "I figured they'd probably offer at the camp after they see me move. I'll probably play defensive end and linebacker, weakside and strongside.

"We talk about football, school, girls – we just talk. He's pretty cool."

In addition to UNC, Johnson plans to camp at East Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

UNC, like most schools, is recruiting Johnson as a defensive end, but he is getting a few looks at outside linebacker.

"He could move to linebacker, but he's more of the hybrid type of kid," Ruark said. "…He does have the ability to put his hand on the ground and play, and to stand up and come from a variety of spots…

"I really don't think he'll become an in-between player down the road. I think he's probably going to grow a couple of inches and he's got a lot of room to put more weight. His dad is 6-7, 295 [pounds]."

Although he primarily plays defensive end for Myers Park, Johnson moves to outside linebacker when the nickel package is employed.

"[We move him back to linebacker, because of] his long wing span, he has good foot speed so on the weakside it takes away the slant for a lot of teams," Ruark said. "Not to mention the fact that if we stand him up, we can bring him off the edge and he's not matched up against a tackle; he'd be matched up against a running back, which is a better match up for us."

Regardless, Ruark counts on Johnson to provide Myers Park's defense with a consistent pass rush from the defensive end position.

"We're really going to be bringing him off the edge more than anything because of his relentless pass rush," Ruark said. "Sometimes he's a little too aggressive and we have to coach him up and make sure he's doing the right things. But I tell you, you'd rather say ‘Woah' then ‘Go.' He's a player that will get after it."

Last season was Johnson's first as a starter on varsity. He ended the year with 58 tackles (34 solo), 3.5 sacks, nine hurries, and a blocked kick.

Brian Johnson Profile


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