Chances Improve With Elite 'Backer

Los Angeles Dorsey's Mark Johnson, the #11-rated linebacker in the country, wasn't thinking seriously about UCLA -- until recently. The 6-3, 227-pounder now says "I'm liking UCLA a lot right now"....

Elite linebacker prospect Mark Johnson (6-3, 227) from Los Angeles Dorsey wasn't showing much interest in UCLA last summer.

But that's changed.

The #11-ranked linebacker in the country, who is also playing in the Army All-American Game, now has UCLA in his top five and said the Bruins are coming on in his mind.

"Right now, I'd say LSU, Ohio State, Cal, Florida and UCLA are my leaders," said Johnson. "I also like Washington State and Arizona State too and Miami as well."

Johnson has taken one of his official visits, to LSU, which he visited October 15th. He said, "Man, it went really well. They have a great campus and a great academic center. And their facilities are very nice. The atmosphere at the game was a real good one. It was the best one I had seen. They played Florida that game and people got really into it."

His next official trip is scheduled for December 10-12 when he visits California.

"I'm working on setting the other ones up, but I will probably visit Ohio State and Florida for sure," Johnson said. "I may take an official to UCLA or I might take an unofficial because it's close," said Johnson.

UCLA assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been instrumental in Johnson now seriously considering the Bruins. Johnson, who attended UCLA's game against Oklahoma in September, said, "Coach EB talks with me a lot. He's a good coach and they've shown a lot of interest in me. I'm liking UCLA a lot right now."

Johnson said that the allure of staying close to home doesn't play a big role in his decision, though. "It would be nice, but it doesn't make a big difference for me. Wherever I go I have to adjust to where I am at," said Johnson.

Johnson said he can play both inside and outside and has no preference. "I just want to be on the field. I don't mind rushing the quarterback or dropping into coverage, though I like being in coverage more," said Johnson.

On the season, Johnson has 80 tackles, three forced fumbles and two sacks. As a junior he amassed 138 tackles, five sacks and an interception and recorded double-digit tackles in all 11 games, including 22 against Point Loma.

The athletic linebacker said that being named to the U.S. Army All-American Game January 7th was a pleasant surprise for him. "I was really excited about that. I never knew I would be able to play in it, but I'm very honored to be selected. I will probably announce my decision at the Army game," said Johnson.

Academically, Johnson said he is solid and fully qualified.

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