Why did I move to Scout and start Demon Deacon Digest?

Demon Deacon Digest publisher Les Johns explains his move to Scout Media and previews what's to come in the weeks ahead

Carbon paper.

That’s what I used to ‘mass produce’ my college basketball preview, hastily assembled in an Ekron, Kentucky third grade classroom in lieu of actually paying attention to Mr. Hinkle ramble at the chalkboard.

Then there was my first (aborted) trip through college, where I wrote music and concert reviews for the student newspaper.

On my second (also scrubbed) attempt at college, I wrote political columns at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky independent daily student newspaper.

What I’m trying to say is this: I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

“Limited walking and limited standing.”

That’s the work restrictions I received after what I now consider a botched knee surgery in early 2010.

I’d spent the better part of two decades toiling in restaurant and retail management positions, making decent money, but usually putting in 60-80 hours a week in a relatively physically demanding environment. That suddenly was no more.

Within a month of getting the restrictions, I went back to school and FINALLY completed my degree, this time majoring in journalism at the University of Kentucky.

Thankfully I was greeted with an incredible group of professors and a welcoming student newspaper staff that was open to working with a non-traditional student in their midst.

I was the sports editor at the Kernel as UK won the NCAA basketball championship game against Kansas in 2012 (Wake coach Manning was on the KU bench). I was assigned the UK basketball beat the following year, but I didn’t get to cover the NCAA.

Instead the Cats had a ridiculously sub-par year and was relegated the NIT, where I covered them losing in the first round to Robert Morris in a town called Moon Township — not quite the same rush as seeing to confetti fall from the heavens after a national title game. 

I still have yet to cover a men’s NCAA Tournament game.

Can the Deacs help me break that streak soon?

Within a couple months of graduating UK, I scored a sports editor gig at the Kentucky New Era, a daily newspaper in Hopkinsville, Kentucky — a town just about an hour north of Nashville, Tennessee. Along with an assistant sports editor than also became my best friend (he likes to salt his tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants as well!), we covered eight high schools like they had never been covered before.

I was at the KNE exactly a year when I left for North Carolina for the opportunity to run Deacons Illustrated, the Rivals site that covers Wake. I probably didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but I have to say that the adventure has been worthwhile.

Together, we built an informative and entertaining message board, with activity that consistently grew during the two years we were together there. The fans that followed my work were extremely appreciative, and the staff (both coaches and media relations) at the various Wake Forest programs have consistently treated me like royalty.

It truly has been a pleasure to cover this program so far.

So why the switch to Scout?

First and foremost, it had a lot to do with the network, both from a national perspective and Deac-specific. The outpouring of support I’ve had thus far from regional and national recruiting writers has been absolutely overwhelming. They’re all eager to help me deliver news and information about Wake Forest football and basketball targets and commits. And these are the folks in the backyards of these players — they know them and their high school coaches best. They are already delivering top-notch info.

Scout also take basketball recruiting seriously, and the top guys in the network like Evan Daniels and Brian Snow will be on our message boards often as Wake fights to regain relevancy in the ACC. 

From a Wake-specific standpoint, there’s little argument that once upon a time, the Scout board was ‘the’ message board of record. Now folks are a little splintered, and that’s ok. I believe we can have something special here.

Clearly, a larger potential audience means better opportunities for me and my family. It also means I’ll be able to devote even more time to delivering Wake Forest athletic news and information to you, the readers.

So we're looking at a better overall product for you folks — more content, more interaction and much more inside information, both from within the program and from potential recruits. 

Your response to our initial subscriber offers have far exceeded all expectations. I’ve received more than a dozen personal messages from readers letting me know they’ve followed me here to Demon Deacon Digest, and shared how much they enjoy my work.

I can’t express enough how much all of this means.

Thanks to your support, I’ll continue to try to bring my best every day — even today, on my birthday.

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