A roughly three-hour drive from Spartan Stadium to the northeast will take you to the small town of Wheatland, Calif. - home of the San Jose State Spartans’ new commit.
“Coming from a town of 3,000 people and a school of 700 kids, it’s a big deal for me,” said Christian Johnson, defensive end, of his commitment to SJSU. “I’m looking to do some good things for my town… We haven’t had a D-I prospect in I can’t remember how long. We had kids walk-on in past years, but we haven’t had a any D-I prospects in years.”
Coaches weren’t flocking to Wheatland Union High School to scout him, but he certainly caught their attention at camps and junior day appearances.
“My first offer (from Sacramento State), they didn’t know who I was until I went to their junior day,” Johnson said. “That’s how I got noticed and they offered me. San Jose State didn’t have any clue who I was until I went to that camp at Contra Costa.”
Johnson has spent three years working on body to become the 6-foot-6 and 260-pound athlete that had coaches scrambling to recruit after a first glance. As a freshman, he stood at 6-foot-4 and 160-pounds - that’s when he locked in on his dream of being a next-level football player.
“I’ve gained 100 pounds since my freshman year,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been a skinny kid. I told myself I want to go to the next level. I told my mom to get me a gym membership and I’ll make it happen. Now I’ve made it happen. I got bigger, faster, stronger. Every year I progressed about 30 to 40 pounds. I’ve just had my mind set on going to the next level.”
To date, Johnson has earned offers from Sacramento State, Montana State and UC Davis, and now most recently SJSU. He has also received interest from Wyoming and San Diego State. After Johnson caught the attention of San Jose State Defensive Line Coach Barry Sacks, he soon took an unofficial visit and landed his offer. Days later he made the decision to commit.
“I really liked my defensive line coach Barry Sacks,” Johnson explained. “I really liked his style of coaching and I really feel he can make me a threat at the defensive end position. San Jose is not too far away from home, but it’s far enough to get away. I really liked the facilities.
“What really impressed me was how welcoming they were. I’ve taken a couple visits and they were by far the most welcoming staff that I met. Their ability to answer questions I had about schooling and their level of football impressed me.”
The Spartans can expect Johnson to come in as a pass-rusher at the defensive end position. At 260 pounds, he exceeds the size of defensive end prospects that SJSU has signed in recent years. Johnson isn’t stopping either, he could be D-I ready when the Spartans kick off the 2017 season.
“I’m going to really work on my strength and speed, but after football season to next summer, I’m looking for my strength and speed to go up,” Johnson said. “It’s already up there for a high school athlete, but I want to improve it to have a head start going into San Jose.”
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