June 6, 2008

Johnson emerging as top football recruit

After years of dominating on the hardwood, James Johnson established himself as one of the top prep football players in San Diego County last fall.

The 6-foot-0, 180-pound athlete from Valley Center (Calif.) High hauled in 74 passes for 1,582 yards and 18 touchdowns at wide receiver.

Defensively, he played the role of lockdown corner.

Johnson earned all-CIF, all-city and first-team all-state underclass honors.

"He is still growing as a football player," said his older brother and guardian Greg Taylor, who coaches football at Palomar Junior College. "People don't realize that James is a very raw football player. He has really only played one year of football."

"The reason why Johnson is a newbie to football is he was concentrating on basketball before he realized that he's an outstanding football talent," explained Valley Center head football coach Rob Gilster. "You can add track to his list of talents. James is an outstanding hurdler as well."

Johnson currently holds scholarship offers from Oregon, Colorado, San Diego State, Utah and Colorado State.

USC, Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Wake Forest are among the other programs recruiting Johnson. He is being recruited on both sides of the ball.

"Most of the schools that have offered have said, 'We like you at defensive back and we like you at receiver, both of our coaches are fighting over you'," Johnson said. "It doesn't really matter to me which position I play in college but honestly I think I am probably going to end up playing defensive back."

Colorado is the most recent program to offer Johnson a scholarship. Tight ends coach Kent Riddle is responsible for his recruitment from the Buffaloes' staff.

"Colorado seems like a really, really, really good school," Johnson said. "They have good coaches there from what I know and they play against good competition. I am interested."

Colorado is in his top five along with Oregon, USC, Arizona and San Diego State.

"Oregon is number one right now," Johnson stated. "Oregon has really good coaches. Coach John Neal is a great, great guy. He was the first coach that I talked to and he has made the biggest impression on me."

Johnson will have two opportunities to showcase his skills against other top D-1 recruits in the next month. He is attending the Oregon NIKE Camp this Saturday and he plans to attend USC's Rising Stars Camp in late June.

Johnson said he plans to wait through the recruiting process. Don't expect an early decision.

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