COMMITMENT ANALYSIS: Justin Johnson

In an ongoing series, Sooners Illustrated will take a look at each of Oklahoma's football commitments for the 2008 signing class. Will they contribute? How soon? How big an impact will they make? Where will they play? Scout.com's experts answer these questions and more.

With the amount of talent returning at the running back position at Oklahoma next year, an incoming freshman might find it impossible to see time on the field.

But Justin Johnson might be the one to do it.

A five-star recruit out of Gilmer, Texas, Johnson is the top-ranked player in Texas and the No. 2 running back in the country.

In fact, Johnson is one of two five-star backs the Sooners landed from Texas as he'll join Vann's Jermie Calhoun on the OU roster.

But Johnson, who's earned the nickname "Bus" in Gilmer, will have at least one advantage over Calhoun in that he's planning to enroll for the spring semester.

There are other advantages as well, according to Scout.com regional recruiting analyst Greg Powers.

"He runs in an offense similar to OU's at Gilmer," Powers said. "So I think the adjustment from that standpoint will be an easy one for him."

Though he's racked up ridiculous rushing yards (including 266 yards and five touchdowns in Gilmer's recent playoff win over Liberty-Eylau), some project Johnson as a linebacker in college.

Powers, who's seen Johnson play in person, isn't among them.

"I think he'll definitely be a running back," he said. "He's plays linebacker just as much as he does running back at Gilmer, but I just feel like if you've got a guy with potential to put points on the board, you want to utilize him."

And "the Bus," according to Powers, has that potential.

Powers called him the best running back he's seen in person this year, and that includes Wichita (Kan.) East junior Bryce Brown, who many consider to be the nation's top recruit in 2009.

"He's just got that ability to score anytime he touches the ball," Powers said. "He was the one player that, when he touched the ball, you held your breath because you knew he could bust the big play."

Johnson has all the tools for the position, Powers said. That includes size (6-foot-1, 205), speed (4.5), vision, the ability to make cuts, power and "a good pop."

"He's the total package," Powers said.

However, that doesn't mean he'll be marching straight to the top of OU's depth chart.

On campus now is a freshman All-American in DeMarco Murray, a proven sophomore in Chris Brown and another freshman, Mossis Madu, whom the coaches rave about.

But don't count out Johnson.

"I love to compete. I compete in everything I do," he said. "They're all good backs, but in my heart, I think I can get out there (on the field). I can't wait for the opportunity."

Powers doesn't disagree.

"I don't think it will be easy, but he's got a chance (to play as a true freshman)," Powers said. "Either way, I think he's got a great future ahead of him."


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