Kevin Johnson: His Coach's Take

GoPokes.com interviewed the high school coach for each of the Oklahoma State commitments in the days leading up to National Signing Day. In this installment of "His Coach's Take," we visit with Cypress Ridge High School head coach Gary Thiebaud about Kevin Johnson, a 6-2, 195-pound receiver from Houston.

What are his strengths as a football player?
Gary Thiebaud: He has a big physical body. Right now, he's 6-2 and in the 190 to 195 range. He's really put together well. He looks kind of like a strong safety-type of guy. He has explosive speed, and can score from anywhere on the field. He has great hands, tremendous hands and catches everything with his hands. We played him at receiver and at quarterback (this past season). He finished the year at quarterback for us. We struggled to get him the ball, so just over the halfway point in the season I moved him to quarterback fulltime that way I could ensure that he touched it every time. He was the best athlete in our district and we just weren't doing a good job of getting him the football, so that was one of those head-coaching decisions to move him to quarterback so he could touch the football.

What do you believe will be his biggest challenge in going from high school to playing in the Big 12?
Gary Thiebaud: I think size and speed. You know we'll see some speed kids but not every day. I think that's a big challenge for all high school kids coming into college, whether it's the Big 12, SEC or whatever conference. The speed of the game really multiplies. He'll adjust to that because he's a speed guy. I think the real deal on multiple coverages and the disguising of coverages and those kind of things, there's going to be a learning curve there.

Was there one game, or maybe even one play, during his career that you'll always remember?
Gary Thiebaud: He led the league this year as a senior in kickoff returns. He's a phenomenal kick returner. I would say it would probably be somewhere in that area but I can't identify just one play right now. I know he had some great returns for us where he just refused to be tackled.

What are three words that describe him as a football player?
Gary Thiebaud: Physical ability. Speed would be another one. Game changer would be another one.

Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Gary Thiebaud: He likes the Big 12. He had almost 30 offers from all over the country, but he likes the Big 12 and the program that Coach Gundy has put together there at Oklahoma State really fits him. It's receiver friendly. The facilities are just second to none. The program has been successful. Joe DeForest, who recruits (Houston) for Coach Gundy, did an outstanding job recruiting him. He does a really good job of representing Oklahoma State. I think there was definitely a connection between those two.

What type of impact to you expect him to have on the OSU football program?
Gary Thiebaud: I don't know what their immediate needs are but I would think that the program is strong enough that they're not really relying on a freshman to come in and be a game-changer for them. He may be able to fill some holes by returning kicks or in some receiver packages but he's got a learning curve to go through. Obviously they're not the type of program where they're requiring a freshman to jump in there and be the savior. He's going find his niche, whatever that is, and then he's going to expand from there as he gets acclimated to that level of football.

Over the course of his college career, whether it be four or five years, what do you expect him to accomplish?
Gary Thiebaud: To be an all-conference player. He'll be an all-conference player and he'll definitely be one of the main guys before he gets out of there.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Gary Thiebaud: The versatility. He played safety for us, he returned kicks, he played receiver, he played quarterback, he played running back. The versatility and his willingness … he'd come up to me in a game in a critical situation and say, ‘Coach, put me in at safety.' He made a key interception for us in a game this year. His versatility and his willingness to compete.

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