Johnson Building a Bond with Penn State

The Glassboro, N.J., receiver has seen his contact with the Nittany Lions explode since James Franklin and his staff arrived at University Park.

Juwan Johnson heard from Penn State's old staff, but not much. That's drastically changed under its new one.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound four-star Glassboro, N.J., receiver has yet to visit University Park, but that hasn't kept him from building a relationship with head coach James Franklin and his assistants. Recently, it has revolved around receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis.

"I have a great rapport with them," Johnson said. "They're fresh, and a great group of guys. They have something I haven't seen from a lot of coaches. They want to build a relationship with you first, and then talk to you about coming down.

"They just want to build that relationship with you."

Johnson said he and Gattis talk anywhere from one to three times a week. Previously, the receiver said he spoke with Penn State no more than once or twice a month.

"He's a cool guy," Johnson said. "He's very laid back and a good guy to talk to. We're just building a base."

The receiver played much of the 2013 with a pair of sprained ankles, but still was given a third-team All-Group One nod in New Jersey after catching 26 passes for 421 yards and four scores. He also carried 28 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson said he saw the most improvement this fall in his explosiveness, adding that the upcoming spring track season will only better his best asset on the field: speed.

"I want to say my hands [are my biggest strength] but everyone knows it's my speed," Johnson said. "Track definitely helps my speed, explosiveness and endurance."

The time is coming for the receiver and his family to sit down and plan unofficial visits. But as of late February, he hasn't set any dates. An eye will turn to official visits by the summer.

Eleven other programs have extended offers, meaning Johnson will have plenty of schools to visit if he so chooses. In the meantime, though, he'll aim to keep building a bond with Gattis and the rest of the Lions' staff.

"Penn State is a great school academically, and especially with the new coaching staff coming in, it just tops it off," Johnson said. "It's not too far from home but not too close, and kind of where I'd want to be. I can just see the atmosphere on TV. When they pack the stadium, it just seems like a good place to be.

"Coach Franklin is a great guy, too," Johnson continued. "He's just down to earth and a good person to talk to like the rest of the staff."


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