South Florida Trying to Keep Johnson Instate

With the South Florida Bulls in need of a running back to finish off their stellar 2014 class, the Bulls' coaching staff has looked no further than stud instate running back, D'Ernest Johnson.

After racking up 1,111 yards and 14 touchdowns on 220 carries in his junior campaign in 2012, guiding his team to the Class 5A state championship game, Immokalee (Fla.) running back D'Ernest Johnson and his team had much success in 2013, but failed to meet their goals of winning a state championship.

"Our team had a good season," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, our season ended in the second around against American Heritage. Our record was 9-3, but it was okay. I finished the season off with 700 and something yards because I had to sit out two games."

After issuing a verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina last May, Johnson has since opened up his recruitment and is giving several schools a fair shot at landing his services.

"Right now, I'm considering Louisville, South Florida, UCLA, Florida and Minnesota," Johnson said. "That's in no order either."

Jimmy Bayes, an Semper Fi All-American and one of the headliners of South Florida's 2014 class, is teammates and friends with the Immokalee running back. With the Bulls in need of a game changer at the running back position, the Bulls have looked no further than the instate product.

"Coach Woodie (linebackers) and coach Lockette (running backs) have been on me real hard," Johnson said. "They're a good program and the relationship I have with them is really good. They need help at running back too."

If Johnson decides to take his talents from Collier County up the Gulf Coast to Tampa Bay, coach Willie Taggart and his staff have special plans for the running back.

"They've been saying I'm their number one running back on their board," Johnson said. "They said they'll base their offense on me and If I commit, they'll shut down the recruiting process with other running backs. Basically, they said if I come to USF, I have a great chance to get playing time."

Johnson has already took an official visit to Minnesota back in October, and has two other official visits set in stone before he signs his letter of intent on Signing Day in February.

"I have two visits set up right now," Johnson said. "I'm going to South Florida on Jan. 17 and Louisville on Jan. 24. I already visited Minnesota back in November and I'm going to set ones up with Florida and UCLA too."

Three very important factors will lead the talented ball carrier to his final decision.

"I'm looking for academics, relationship with the coaching staff and playing time," Johnson said. "Wherever you go, there's going to be competition and you'll have to work hard to see the field."

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