"Gerald Johnson. The Freak," started head coach Joe Kersting. "A great football player. NFL caliber if he can get two or three more years of college ball." Academics have been a hurdle, but he should be eligible to play in 2002 after sitting out 2001 for academic reasons. If the stars align, Johnson could end up at a D1 college. If not, expect him to sign with a D2 team and make All-American.
What are strengths a few areas where you'd like to improve?
"I'm a good option defender and pass rusher. I create a lot of havoc
in the backfield. I'm a good team player. I need to work better on reading
Which schools are recruiting you? "Mich. St., and Georgia. I took a year off of Football, so I haven't from a lot of schools right now."
What are your personal goals? "I need to sacrifice everything to make the team better. I need to get my degree. I can't take any plays off, and make sure I'm always around the QB and the football."
"Carl didn't have as good a day at the combine as he normally has. We timed him a lot better than he did at the combine," said Kersting. "He's by far the best press cover guy we've ever had."
The biggest obstacle for Marshall may be academics, which need some shoring up. Fortunately, both his teammates and the coaches are trying to help and push him academically.
Depending on how he does in the classroom, Marshall will be a big-time recruit. Texas Tech and Michigan State really like him right now.
"He's a natural football player, who reads and reacts well," according to Kersting. Wright's cousin Toby Wright played for Nebraska and then in the NFL. " Eric is from a long line of Wrights in Arizona, who have played football," added Kersting. "He has it all."
At the combine Eric jumped 32.5 inches and really stood out during the one-on-one portion of the combine with his aggressive play. "I'm smart and aggressive," Blackwell told us at the combine. "I make my teammates believe they can get it done."
If he has a successful sophomore season, it might be appropriate to give a little credit to just-graduated two time All-American safety, Eric Blackwell. the past two seasons.
Wright, who graduates next May, is getting early interest from Utah State, Oregon State, Arizona State, Michigan State, and San Diego State. He was largely unrecruited in high school, perhaps because his team went 1-9. The times are changing for him in 2002.
Glendale quarterback, Jeremy Copeland, is a redshirt sophomore who started four games in 2001. Injury cut short his season, but not before he led Glendale to a huge win over Dixie State. According to Kerstin, Copeland is very athletic with quick feet and a quick release. Right now Copeland is best at throwing the intermediate and short routes. He throws the seam routes really well. If he can improve at throwing the deep ball to the outside...watch out. Penciled in as the starter.
One of the more intriguing skill position players at the combine was WR/Athlete, Robbie Jones. He ran a great 4.41 forty, did 12 reps of 225, and jumped 33.5 inches. Where to play him in 2002...that's the question.
"They've moved me to cornerback now, which I think is a good move for me. I love corner," said Jones. "I played corner and tailback in high school and started both ways." He made All-Region teams at both positions, actually.
But at the combine he worked out at receiver.
" As a wide receiver he has good burst out of his break. Jones was a high school running back, which helps him after the catch--he's dangerous. Also returns punts for us," said Kersting. Jones' experience at wideout will come in handy now that he'll be at corner.
Commenting on his strengths and goals: "I think my speed, which is something that I work at. And my work ethic. My goal for this year is to just help the team and contend for a championship."
Jones was a starter mainly the latter part of last season and coaches see 2002 as a break out year for him.
Four-year schools haven't really started to move on Jones, who was lightly recruited out of high school. However, the combination of a great GPA (3.8 last semester), athleticism, December graduation, and the availability of a redshirt season will be hard to ignore down the line.
What Dyzell (pronounced: Dye-Zell) Wilson lacks in height he makes up for in speed and quickness. "Boy, he fights. He'll beat up the wide receiver to get the ball away from the receiver," said Kersting. At the combine he showed off a 31.5" vertical and ran the shuttle in 4.3 seconds, which shows that he's got a little quickness.
"I'm real physical," said Wilson. "I have a lot of smarts on the football field and I get along with everyone. I try to be team player and just work with what I've got," he added.
Last year most of his action came on special teams, but now he's penciled in as a starting corner. This former track athlete, who ran on a state championship 4 x 100 relay team, is up for the challenge.
Wilson is only getting nominal attention from four-year schools right now, with Weber State and New Mexico staying in touch. He is close with a Weber coach, so they'll get a look during the recruiting process. Currently, though, he's focusing on summer school, weight training, and conditioning.
Clearly has the coveted size for a corner, but needs to improve consistency. Played mostly on special teams in 2001. Kersting said that Larochelle showed great improvement in the spring, which could earn him the reps he needs. His 4.16 shuttle was the third best of the day.
Sholola is a talented interior defensive lineman but we're told he will have to work very hard to earn D1 grades. Possesses above average speed and nice quickness for a guy his size. Started on the national championship team (2000) but was declared ineligible in 2001. Pushed up 21 reps at 225.
"Matt has real good speed and is a tough, physical guy. He hurt his ankle before last season, so we redshirted him. He'll be our starting ILB this year," said Kersting.
According to Kersting, Hooks is a redshirt freshman who has really come on strong this spring. "He has gotten a lot bigger and faster. Could play safety or possibly corner," said Kersting. "I didn't think he would make the squad, but he has really worked hard and will start this fall."
Hooks, who is a 3.0 student, would like to leave after the fall.
Others to Watch
Of course, we didn't see the entire Glendale squad at the combine. Two of the better players on the team were not in attendance, but that won't stop myriad four-year schools from recruiting them:
DE J.C. Braker is a 6-6, 235-pound demon off the edge. We saw him play versus Snow College last November and were impressed, although he was skinny at the time. Kersting says that Braker has put on a lot of weight and is getting stronger every day.
CB Chris McKenzie, who is 5-10, 185, is reported to be the fastest player on the team. One coach told me that McKenzie recorded a blazing 4.2 forty. He's explosive and will receive big-time attention.
TE/Slot Justin Walker (6-2, 230) was called as one to watch by Dyzell Wilson. Coach Kersting's comments: "Smart, versatile. Runs, blocks and catches well."