Recruiting: Catching up with Justin Johnson

Gilmer, Texas RB Justin Johnson talks in-depth about his recent off the field trouble and trip to Norman for the Red/White game. (Photo/Mary Kirby)

Justin Johnson, RB, 6-1, 205, Gilmer, Texas:

JH: You have been to Norman several times, so how much did you enjoy coming up for the annual Red/White game as a commitment to the Sooners?

JJ: "I was happy to see a lot of the committed guys there. There were a lot of recruits there and not all of them were committed, but it was great to see so many recruits and guys who all played so many different positions. I really enjoyed the game and the team looked good. It was fun watching the game and getting to meet the new guys who have committed."

JH: What did you think of Landry Jones, the quarterback commit in your class?

JJ: "The dude is amazing. In fact, I watched some tape on him this morning and he is amazing. I am really excited to have him on our team. He likes the spread offense and likes to throw screen passes. We talked about screens and I told him how I like to catch them. He is a real nice guy and we plan on hooking up and getting to know each other better."

JH: Since you committed, the Sooners were fortunate to get two commitments from two outstanding offensive linemen in Ben Habern and Britt Mitchell. Considering that you are a running back, the fact OU is putting together a great line class has to make you happy?

JJ: "Yeah, that dude Britt Mitchell is huge. He broke my hand when I shook his hand. That dude it huge. He was a real nice guy. He heard about the little incident that I got in the middle of and he sat down with me and talked about it. It was me, him and a couple of other guys. J.B. Shugarts was one of them. We all talked about it and they understood everything that happened. They all told me that they were glad to have me as a teammate and they told me to continue down the right path so that I won't get caught in that situation no more."

JH: I understand the off the field incident where you supposedly spray-painted a car is not exactly what happened. Tell us what happened from your standpoint?

JJ: "First, I didn't confess to anything and I didn't turn myself in. The newspaper down here in Gilmer is wrong about that. My friends that I was with weren't trying to get into trouble, but they weren't thinking. They just put me in a bad situation and got my name brought up in the press. My friends are the ones that spray-painted the car. I didn't even get out of the car."

JH: Why do you think you got accused of this?

JJ: "I used to date this girl and the dad doesn't like me. I dated his daughter and she is white and he wasn't too happy about us dating. We never got along."

JH: So was his attitude towards you racially motivated in your opinion?

JJ: "Yes sir. I don't even date his daughter anymore."

JH: What did you say to OU about the situation?

JJ: "I didn't know it hit the papers up there. I didn't even know it hit the papers down here until a couple of friends called me. They didn't find out or hear anything up there until it hit the papers up there. They didn't say anything about it being my fault or threaten to pull my scholarship or anything. They told me that I don't need to put myself in that position anymore and I need to hang around with people that aren't getting in trouble. They told me to do the right things and to not get into that position any more."

JH: What did some of your future teammates tell you?

JJ: "I brought some of my friends with me to the game and they all were joking with me at first about it. I didn't take anything real bad and then J.B. was like, 'Man, I am going to keep you out of trouble.' Everybody understood and talked to me about it. They told me what I wanted to hear to help me rebuild my confidence back up. I had a lot of people put me down and I have lost a lot of friends over this. It has been real shocking to me. I walked into the Wal-Mart in town and I was going to cash a check, because I had just finished doing some yard work. I went to the bank in Wal-Mart and one of my friends who I went to school with, but who is now in college started telling me not to look at her and blah, blah, blah. She had heard about it, but wouldn't let me tell my side of the story. She was just going by what she heard and she didn't want to hear anything else. It is not only her, but it is some of the kids down here who look up to me. For that to be put in the papers, that certainly is not a good way for me to be a role model. People are telling me that I let down a bunch of little kids and that is the last thing that I wanted to hear."

JH: What have you learned about life through this ordeal?

JJ: "It shows me that the more success that I have or the higher I go up the ladder, that people will try to bring me down if I let them. I can't put myself in situations where I can ruin all the hard work that I have been putting in over years just so that I can get a chance to play football at OU. I also found out that my current teammates and my future teammates are truly teammates. They are all still behind me and I hope they all understand where I am coming from. I wanted to show them that I was OK and that his was all a big mistake and they understood.

"I tried to have fun while I was there. We got through eating and in the back of practice field there were a bunch of kids with a football just playing around. I would say about 20 kids and I just decided to go over and join them. Some of them knew me because they had come up to me before and asked if they could get their picture with me. I said sure and those kids were so nice to me that I just wanted to return the favor, so I went back there and played some football with them. They hit me pretty good, but I survived."

JH: Were you excited how well OU ran the football in the Red/White game?

JJ: "I was impressed. Those guys have been working hard and they looked great in that game."

JH: How is your off-season going?

JJ: "It is going great. I am running track. I was going to play baseball, but we have a lot of young kids on the track team and I just decided to run with them and help out. I am running the 100M, 200M and long jump. I have a toe injury that has been bothering me, but I have still improved my 100M time. I had run an 11.0, but I have improved that to 10.9. In my 200M I ran 22.89."

JH: Are you still talking to a number of recruits?

JJ: "I think J.B. (Shugarts) and Jameel (Owens) are the only two guys that I talk to a lot that haven't committed. I feel in my heart that those guys are going to commit. Jameel and I talked right after the game and he told me that he had not had a chance to see that many schools and he wanted to take the opportunity to that. But he said, 'You know me,' and that OU was at the top of his list. I am confident in him and hopefully he is going to commit soon. J.B. said that his dad doesn't want him to commit to early. He just wants to wait, but I feel good about him as well."

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