Late Blaise Raises the Count

Don't look now, but Stanford is stacking up nicely in the defensive backfield, where they historically have a difficult time recruiting. The latest addition came Tuesday night when <b>Blaise Johnson</b> received the news that he had been accepted to Stanford. With just hours to go until he was to sign a Letter of Intent, the Arizona athlete realized his dream.

It didn't come quite down to the last frayed wire like we saw two years ago with Mark Bradford and Michael Okwo, who were admitted by Stanford on Signing Day.  But it was pretty close for Blaise Johnson on the eve of Signing Day Tuesday night.  He got the word at 6 PM Mountain time from the Cardinal that he had just cleared admissions and was offered a scholarship to Stanford, which he immediately accepted.  That late news, with all its associated drama for the Corona del Sol High School senior, could be story enough.  More amazing is the flurry of activity in the preceding two hours.

"At four o'clock I talked with Coach [Tom] Quinn and he told me they needed a graded writing sample," Johnson relays.  "I rustled around and found my junior research project and sent it in.  I guess they liked it because they admitted me two hours later.  I hear this is actually a common thing they need to see - they want to see how tough the teachers are at my school and if I can stand up to what I would face at Stanford."

"I was really surprised to hear back that fast," the Arizona athlete admits about the turnaround on his graded writing sample.  "Coach Quinn told me it could go late into the night, and I just knew I needed to make a commitment somewhere so I could sign between 8 and 10 AM on Wednesday.  When he told me I was admitted and offered a full scholarship, he asked me if I wanted to accept.  I told him I was insulted he even had to ask that.  Stanford is where I've wanted to go since I was six years old."

The high drama of Tuesday evening capped off a whirlwind week for the Tempe (Ariz.) option quarterback, who took his official visit to Stanford last Thursday and then turned around for an official visit to UNLV starting Friday.  Johnson took all five of his official visits in January, and though he had the delicious dilemma of choosing between four offers, it was the waiting game for that fifth that left him nervously watching the clock these past 48 hours.  In the end, his patience and persistence paid off.

"It was definitely weird visiting Stanford and not being admitted," Johnson says of his 24-hour official trip.  "But I got good vibes from the coaches.  They wanted me there; it was just up to Admissions."

"That was actually my third time there," he adds.  "I had already seen the full tour of the campus, the stadium and the locker room.  It was a short official visit, but I knew I didn't need those things.  I was interested in meeting the coaches and players.  The guys all had good personalities.  They seemed like me - they were serious about football but cared about school.  The goal at Stanford is to be a true student-athlete."

"The guys treated me with respect," Johnson notes.  "And also there's Allen Smith.  He's a good friend already there."

Blaise Johnson is the 16th commitment for Stanford in this class, and you can classify him as an "athlete," though he says the coaching staff has talked to him primarily about playing cornerback.  Wide receiver is a possibility, as well.

The 5'11" 187-pound Corona del Sol senior had a standout season at the helm of his team's option offense this year, leading them to eight straight wins and the state playoff quarterfinals after he was moved under center.  He was named Central Region Player of the Year as well as First Team All-State as a defensive back.  Johnson chose the Cardinal over BYU, UNLV, Nevada and Air Force.

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