Mooney's Johnson Ready For State Semifinals

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney quarterback/defensive back Derrell Johnson is getting some attention from various colleges -- including Ohio State -- after three consecutive strong games in the Division IV playoffs. Our Duane Long has a look at this unique athlete, who will be on display as defending state champion Mooney tackles unbeaten Bellaire (and QB Nate Davis) Saturday night in a state semifinal at Steubenville.

Youngstown Mooney is back in the hunt for another Division IV state championship and quarterback Derrell Johnson is a big part of that push.

Colleges far and wide – including Ohio State – like the 6-2, 185-pound Johnson as a wide receiver. Johnson, who boasts 4.5-second speed in the 40, is ranked as the nation's 45th-best wide receiver by Ohio High magazine lists him as the state's No. 24 senior overall.

"(OSU assistant Darrell) Hazell called (Tuesday night) from Ohio State," said Johnson, who attended an OSU home game earlier this year. "I also have calls from Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Pittsburgh. Ohio State is on the top of the list, of course. North Carolina, Michigan State and Cincinnati are all staying in touch."

Johnson transferred to Mooney from Campbell Memorial, which was 1-9 a year ago. As a junior, he had 1,400 yards total offense while working at quarterback and wide receiver. He also repped at safety.

He helped Mooney win its first five games, but went down with a broken fibula in the Week 5 game against Canton Central Catholic. He maintained hope that his teammates would get into the postseason, which they did with an 8-2 record.

Johnson returned for the playoffs and has helped Mooney cut a wide swath so far through the D-IV field.

In his team's 51-7 rout of Cuyahoga Falls CVCA in the playoff opener, Johnson rushed for 146 yards and two TDs and also passed for 102 yards and a TD.

A week later, he ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a TD pass in a 28-9 regional semifinal win over Akron Manchester.

Last week, Johnson delivered an 83-yard touchdown run as Mooney again flattened Canton Central Catholic – this time 30-12 – to reach the state semifinals.

That leads to a match-up Saturday at 7 p.m. at Steubenville's Harding Stadium as 11-2 Mooney tackles undefeated Bellaire, led by superb signalcaller Nate Davis.

"I have heard a lot about Nate Davis," Johnson said. "In fact, we may be seeing a lot of each other. I will also be starting at cornerback."

Johnson is OK with the idea he would play wide receiver at the college level.

"I want to be receiver," he said. "I would like to be a quarterback but it looks like my chances are better as a receiver. I like playing quarterback but it will not play a role in my decision."

Johnson has made no official visits to date. He will wait until his team's playoff run is complete – hopefully after next weekend's state championship game in Canton.

"I have schools looking to set up visits but we are in the playoffs so it has been hard to get anything set up," Johnson said.

Johnson is also working hard to improve his academic profile.

"I am in the process of scheduling my test now," he said. "I have taken it once before but I want to improve on that."

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