January 9, 2008

McCluster teammate to visit Ole Miss

The former staff at Ole Miss offered Largo, Fla. athlete Leonard Johnson and that offer has been kept on the table by new Rebel head coach Houston Nutt and recruiting efforts are in full swing for the prep standout which includes a visit on Jan. 18.

If Largo sounds familiar to Rebel fans, its likey because that's the home of current Rebel standout athlete Dexter McCluster.

McCluster is also lending a hand to his former high school teammate.

"He really wants me to come to Ole Miss," Johnson said Tuesday evening. "He says I can help them turn the program around."

Not only are Johnson and McCluster former teammates, but the relationship goes further than that.

"He's been like an older brother to me," Johnson said. "He's someone I've looked up to and he's done great at Ole Miss. He's got such great speed and desire. All he needs to do is stay on the field."

Johnson, rated a three-star athlete by Rivals.com committed to Iowa State last Saturday, but he's made it clear that he'll continue to look at other schools, which includes the Ole Miss visit and a planned visit to Memphis on Jan. 25.

While the staff at Ole Miss has been in a state of flux with new assistant coaches being hired and a few former Arkansas coaches busy in the Cotton Bowl, effort hasn't been lost on Johnson.

"They call me every Tuesday," Johnson said. "I try to call them every Saturday. I talked with the last week and I'm trying to get (recruiting coordinator) Chris Vaughn's number because I got a new phone and don't have his number now."

Johnson said he's been impressed with Vaughn's recruiting effort, noting that he's also originally from Florida (Tallahassee) and was also a high school wrestler, in which Johnson also competes. Johnson is participating in wrestling this winter, competing at 189 pounds.

Johnson led his Largo team to 13 straight wins in its quest to become the first Pinellas County team to capture a state championship. Largo ultimately fell short of that goal against St. Thomas Aquinas in the 5A semi-final. Johnson finished the season with more than 1,900 yards of total offense.

The 5-foot-10, 177 pound Johnson played quarterback in his four year career at Largo, but may project as a defensive back at the college level.

Johnson recently played in the FACA all-star game and made the most of it. Johnson ended up starting for his team in the game ahead of several much more experienced and very talented corners. He had six tackles and forced a fumble.

Johnson's Division I scholarship offer list for football ended up around a dozen school, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Memphis, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Florida, Troy and West Virginia, and Iowa State.

Johnson said he doesn't know much about Ole Miss other than what McCluster has told him and he wants to visit Ole Miss and other places to make sure he makes the right decision when it comes to his college football career.

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