Teyo Taking His Shot

Stanford has enjoyed the fruits of improving recruiting in recent years, including some elite and unique athletic talents. The flip side of that bounty is the potential to lose those talents before their time is up, to the NFL. Thursday, wide receiver Teyo Johnson will bear that out as he declares for the draft.

Redshirt sophomore Teyo Johnson will declare Thursday at a press conference at Stanford University that he is making himself eligible for this spring's NFL draft. He is forgoing his final two years of eligibility to play football, and will not rejoin the Stanford basketball team for what would have been his junior year. He also leaves two years of basketball remaining that he could play.

Though underclassmen may declare up until January 15 for the NFL draft, and have until January 18 to withdraw their names, Johnson is not making this declaration as one to 'test the waters.' This decision is a final one. He is stopping out of school to prepare himself for the NFL combine, and will be shortly looking at agents. NCAA rules dictate that a player who has contacted an agent surrenders all further collegiate eligibility.

Johnson departs Stanford after a redshirt sophomore season where he caught 41 passes for 467 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 38 balls for 565 yards and seven scores his redshirt freshman season in 2001, earning wide acclaim as one of the top freshmen performers in the entire country.

In basketball, Johnson averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in an average of 16.8 minutes in his 2001-02 sophomore season. He averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in an average of 9.8 minutes in his freshman year. Teyo started 11 games in his Stanford career, all in his second season.

The impact of this departure comes at many levels. Just as basketball's departures last spring marked the dawn of a new era, Johnson's departure renews a feeling for Stanford football not felt since the 1991 season, when then junior offensive tackle Bob Whitfield bolted for the NFL and a #8 overall selection by the Atlanta Falcons. While Stanford has spent the last decade watching Pac-10 foes lose key talents to the NFL draft, the spectre of early departures has returned to The Farm. In addition to Teyo Johnson, Kwame Harris is reported to be looking hard at an early exit. Many publications and experts believe that Harris could be a first round selection.

For the football team, Stanford loses a receiver with size and power that cannot be replaced. Johnson was the money man in the redzone in his brief career, pulling down lob passes that were indefensible when properly executed. His open field moves after catching the ball were also the stuff of dreams.

Though this subtraction is a loss for Stanford football, it is not unexpected. Johnson has been talking about the NFL since last spring and summer, when he worked out in the mornings with Bay Area NFL greats Jerry Rice and J.J. Stokes. With just one season of college football under his belt, Teyo had his eyes squarely set on the NFL and made no secret of that when talking with people. This second season apparently did little to sway him from that goal.

Says receivers coach and associate head coach David Kelly of the jump, "This is a dream of Teyo's and whatever we can do to help him fulfill his dream, we will do. Though this also opens up the door to someone else's dream. There now is another spot at wide receiver that must be filled for us through our recruiting."

Indeed, Kelly and the other Stanford coaches are currently spread throughout the country in the heat of national recruiting battles, including several for receivers. Without a doubt, those recruits will be quickly made aware of Teyo Johnson's departure.

For the basketball team, who is about to end a two week break from games and embark on a flurry of activity with five games in eight days, the impact will be felt right away. Curtis Borchardt's departure last spring already deprived the roster of a key player in the post, and now without Johnson's return to Maples, the Card will have to push through this season with just four big men.

"He could have helped us," laments assistant coach Eric Reveno at the loss of Teyo Johnson, "but at the same time we've built the nucleus of a strong team. We may not be the most skilled or the most athletic team in the country, but guys are playing hard and we like our team right now. We really have good chemistry. We know how much he loves basketball, and we wish him all the best. He's a tremendous athlete and competitor."

Reveno also jokes that since the injury Johnson suffered in the final minutes of Big Game a "no injury rule" was laid down for Stanford's big men. Explains Reveno, "The rule is that no big guys are allowed to get hurt. We can't afford it."

That injury to Johnson's knee apparently also played a significant role in this decision. Says head coach Mike Montgomery, "That injury scared him. He knows football is where his future is, and how close he could be to losing that."

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