San Leandro (Calif.) athlete Stephen Johnson (6-0, 180) has waited patiently to get back on to the field.
A broken foot suffered in fall practice has kept Johnson sidelined for the whole season.
But this weekend, when San Leandro plays Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd, the four-star will return to action.
“It feels good right now,” said Johnson. “I’ve been rehabbing the past two weeks, and hopefully I’m cleared to be able to go against O’Dowd. I miss being out there and miss scoring most of all. I love that. Getting in to the end zone.”
At The Opening, Johnson announced his commitment to UCLA, and hasn’t wavered since.
In fact, the only school that Johnson would have even considered for a visit was Mississippi State, where his dad went. And a trip wouldn’t have been likely.
“My dad is juiced, almost too juiced, with how they’re playing,” said Johnson about the Bulldogs. “But that would have had to have been before I committed. I’m solid to UCLA and not visiting anyone else.”
Johnson has set his official visit for UCLA for next month.
“I’m going down on November 22nd for my official visit when they play USC,” said Johnson.
Johnson said he’s working on some players to join him in Westwood, with one player in particular.
“I’m working on Dechaun Holiday the most, definitely Dechaun,” said Johnson.
When he made his commitment, Johnson said several factors played in to picking the Bruins. One was so he didn’t have to worry about recruiting during his senior year.
“Making the early decision has made it kind of relaxing,” said Johnson. “I’ve been able to focus on certain things, like school, family, myself, instead of my phone constantly ringing and having to contact people all the time.”
Johnson originally committed to UCLA to play receiver, but said he’s now talking to Demetrice Martin, the Bruins’ defensive backs coach, as much as he is receivers coach Eric Yarber.
“UCLA is now recruiting me more as an athlete. I had been recruited as a receiver but now it’s becoming more of an athlete, said Johnson. “I was mainly talking to Coach Yarbs but now I’m talking to Coach Meat a lot. I talk to Angus (McClure) too, but Coach Meat is talking to me a lot.”
Johnson’s versatility is something that UCLA keyed on in his recruitment.
“I think it’s a big factor being able to play any position on the field and on either side,” said Johnson. “Wherever the team is in need, that’s where I’ll go. There is also a good chance to return kicks and punts. That’s another thing we talked about, special teams. There is a good chance to come in and play as a freshman.”
Johnson said he’s open to either side.
“Man, I’m not sure where my heart is,” said Johnson. “They’re giving me the most opportunity on offense first, but I just want to help the team. UCLA is telling me they don’t have anyone like me as a slot, or one that is really playing, so that was big for me and a factor for me.”
Initially, Johnson planned on graduating early and enrolling at UCLA in time for spring, but with most of his senior season being washed by an injury, he’s now unlikely to do so.
“I don’t think it’s going to work out, but that was my plan,” said Johnson. “I’ve missed so much of my senior year, so I want to stay back and enjoy some aspect of it.”
Johnson will return to the basketball court and track later in the school year, and he’s strongly considering track in college.
“If I get the opportunity to, I’ll run track in college,” said Johnson. “I’m going to run the 100m and 200m.”