January 20, 2008

Three-star athlete enjoyed official visit

Around three years ago, the Ole Miss Rebels decided to recruit an explosive athlete out of Largo, Fla.

This past weekend, that same athlete, current Rebel receiver Dexter McCluster, returned the favor, helping recruit another exciting prospect from Largo.

Three-star athlete Leonard Johnson took an official visit to Ole Miss this past weekend, and his old high school buddy, McCluster, did a good job wooing the 5-foot-10, 177-pound prospect.

"I was expecting to have a nice time," Johnson said. "I knew it'd be great with Dexter. He's the best host I've had by far, hands down. He's great kid, very popular. People love him."

Johnson said he was extra impressed with a large picture of McCluster hanging on the wall inside the Rebels' academic facility.

The new FedEx Academic Support Center and the Indoor Practice Facility left a big impression on Johnson.

"The facilities were just excellent. They're the best I've seen so far," he said. "I love how everything's centered around the practice facility. Everything's amazing. I'm really impressed. I didn't expect it to be that big."

Johnson said he's still committed to Iowa State, but he lists Ole Miss in a group of his favorites with the Cyclones, West Virginia and Florida State.

Johnson said he will visit West Virginia in early February, waiting to make his final decision until closer to signing day.

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

Johnson played quarterback for four years in high school but projects as a defensive back in college.

He said he spent extra time speaking with Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, and the direction of the conversation told him a lot about the new Rebel head coach.

"We talked for longer than I expected," Johnson said. "We talked about a lot of things. We talked football. We talked about life in general and overcoming obstacles.

"I was impressed."

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