Why does Teyo Johnson feel ready to go pro now?
He met with an NCAA advisory board prior to this season, which told him that they evaluated him as a late first round or early second round NFL draft pick at that time. He then applied for a $2M insurance policy with the NCAA and was approved based on that evaluation. With that information, he entered this season with the mindset that he was readying himself for the upcoming draft.
What role did the NFL guys he worked with this summer have?
Johnson worked out with Jerry Rice, J.J. Stokes and Eddie George this summer, primarily the latter two. In his words, he says they told him, "You have a lot of potential, 15-year potential in the league. You can make a lot of money in the NFL."
What line does Johnson draw for where he feels he should be drafted above, and will be disappointed if drafted below?
"First round," he says. Sources say that Johnson is being told today that he is actually a top 10 or top 15 overall pick in the first round, though it is believed that the people whispering this to him are the prospective agents who have a great self-interest in his coming out.
Where is he projected today to be drafted next spring?
Very tough to say. One Internet draft projections calls Teyo Johnson the #1 tight end prospect in this draft. But the Stanford coaches have been calling clubs in the NFL to get a more authoritative read, and the answers they are receiving say that Johnson is a 3rd round to 5th round selection right now. Head coach Buddy Teevens gave this information to his talented receiver when they sat down to talk about this decision and urged Johnson to wait until the January NCAA advisory pannel's evaluation for underclassmen.
When will an agent be selected?
He is currently in the middle of interviewing agents and will have a decision next week. Where he trains will likely depend on which agent he selects. Note to anybody thinking that Teyo Johnson is going to pull back and stay at Stanford: the dealings with an agent seal the irreversibility of this path and end any and all collegiate eligibility.
So why go down a path of no return if there is information to suggest that he is viewed below where he would like to be drafted?
The short answer is that Johnson has a supreme belief in his abilities, and feels he has put in enough time to get ready. He cites the two seasons of football and two seasons of basketball as "four years of preparation," thus defining his experience as comparable to senior athletes in college. Johnson also believes that he is not physically tuned to where he can be by the combine precisely because of his juggling of two sports. While other football players are training in the off-season to get stronger and more powerful, he says that switching to basketball mode encourages him to get smaller and quicker. " For the first time I get to focus on one thing, one specific position, one specific sport. I think after I have had the chance to focus on just one thing, I'll show people that I can run," he charges. "Everybody says I have tight end speed, but I think I can show them I can have receiver speed." Bottom line is that last summer's information from the NCAA advisory pannel, plus what some people are whispering to him today, plus his belief that he can train and focus to improve areas like speed for the combine - he thinks it's a sound plan.
But why declare now and get an agent instead of waiting out for the January NCAA advisory recommendation?
"I think that it would be foolish to test the waters," Johnson explains. "I could come back and then wonder next year if I made the right decision. To teeter-totter would not be smart. I want to start training right away and get an advantage on all the seniors who to prepare with their teams for bowl games, and then other all-American games."
What position will he play in the NFL - receiver or tight end?
"It remains to be seen," he pontificates. "It depends on how I run. No matter what, they are probably going to put me at tight end, but maybe split me out when I show that I can run."
What has been the reaction by coaches and teammates to this decision?
Johnson told them earlier in the week, and says that the support has been strong. "Most guys on the [football] team were telling me I should go," he says. "If they were in my shoes, they said they would do the same thing. All the support has made this a really easy decision." The coaches strongly advised that he wait for the advisory pannel's information, and he says that Teevens suggested he could use another year. But in the end, he says that both Teevens and basketball head coach Mike Montgomery are "100% supportive." Both coaches have said they very sincerely wish him all the best success.
Did this decision get accelerated due to the disappointing season?
"No," he says. "Actually the struggles this season prepared me more for the NFL than a really positive season. The negative season did not have any effect on this decision."
Would Teyo be going pro if Tyrone Willingham were still the coach at Stanford?
Johnson says that Willingham actually advised him last December that he could be ready for the NFL after his redshirt sophomore season. Willingham also just recently called the receiver and advised him on the decision to leave Stanford and go into the NFL, with full support for the move.
How did his injury at the end of Big Game play a role in this decision?
Johnson says that it did not scare him so much as "hurt [his] invincibility complex, but that's all." He also notes that had he not been hurt, he would have likely transitioned quickly to playing basketball and perhaps not had the same time and environment to make this decision. "The injury gave me a chance to step back, reflect and look at my opportunities," he admits.
What is his academic plan for continuing and completing his Stanford degree?
He took his last final exam for this autumn quarter on Tuesday, and is stopping out winter quarter. He has two more classes to take at Stanford, which he says he plans on taking in the off-season. Beyond that, the rest can be taken remotely. "You can't go to Stanford and not get a degree," Johnson explains. "It just doesn't make any sense." He says he is 60% complete with his degree. Johnson has made a solemn promise to his mother to complete the degree, though he says that "it's gonna be a while" before that is finished. The degree is also very important to Johnson, who says he has "big business plans" after his football career is done, and that the Stanford degree is paramount to his success. He also notes that his experiences working this summer at a venture capital firm "opened [his] eyes" to the depth and complexity of the business world, and how Stanford will open doors for him.
What are his feelings on Stanford as he departs The Farm?
"The relationships have been fantastic, and I've had a great time with three wonderful years here," Johnson beams. "Stanford is such a unique and diverse environment, and I want to thank the Stanford community for giving me the opportunity to represent one of the finest Universities in the world."
Will Kwame Harris join him in declaring for the draft this year?
Teyo does not have a good and hard answer on what his hulking offensive tackle teammate is thinking, but does think that Harris "has the chance to be the first [offensive] lineman taken in this draft." As to the greater question of Stanford athletes being ready to leave early for the professional ranks, he comments: "I think we're just getting better caliber athletes here now. Guys in high school are getting smarter and deciding that they want the best school with the best athletics. We're getting the Josh Childresses and the Michael Cravens of the world. By my leaving, this makes the statement that we are very good athletes, not just smart guys with high SATs."