Character Builder

West Virginia isn't limiting itself to offensive skill position players as it recruits in Texas. The Mountaineers recently offered a Lone Star defensive lineman who has a growing scholarship list and a desire to do well both on and off the field.

Manvel High School's Taiwan Johnson is an extremely polite high schooler who balances football with a sense of community purpose and a desire to be the best person he can be. And while it's his football talent that has a number of schools offering grants-in-aid, it's also his character and good works that have helped him rake in the scholarship tenders.

"I really didn't expect all of these offers," Johnson said after getting his latest from Mountaineer assistant Shannon Dawson, "I thought it might be one and done. I guess they see that I play hard, and that I'm a good person. I like to do things for the community. My dad is a part of a fraternity, and he gets me helping out at the senior center, and feeding the homeless, and other charity work. I just care about people."

Good character is obviously one of the factors that West Virginia's coaches are looking for in their recruits, and when it's coupled in such large measure with a player of Johnson's ability, an offer becomes a no-brainer. That was the case for Mountaineer coaches after watching video of Johnson's junior year, in which he recorded 61 tackles and seven sacks from his defensive end spot during the regular season. He dotted the defensive stat sheet across the board, adding two pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a safety to his totals.

"I played a little tight end in middle school, but I've always been a defensive end," Johnson said. "I like to do the hitting, and attack the backfield. I can get after it and disrupt the offense."

Johnson is also a solid technician, and uses good fundamentals in his play. He listed his handwork and getting out of his stance quickly as keys to his success, and it's clear that he relishes the chance to wreak havoc in the backfield.

West Virginia's offer came a bit out of the blue for Johnson, but he plans to learn more about the Mountaineers now that they have jumped into the scholarship fray.

"West Virginia hadn't talked to me much before the offer came, but now that I have it, I'll be calling Coach Dawson back to catch up," he said."

With offers piling up, Johnson knows he has a tough task to sort through all of the schools that have made offers, and he plans to start doing that as his junior year winds down.

"I want to visit as many schools as I can, so I don't know if I will be narrowing it down quickly," he said. "Even if I can't get to a school, I will do a lot of research on them with the Internet. I'm looking for a great fan base, a great environment and a coaching staff that brings in good players and good people. I like to be around coaches that preach to you how to do right, and not just in football. I am looking for a place where I can be part of a family."

Johnson plans to attend camps at Texas A&M and Baylor this summer.

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