May 5, 2009

Johnson building relationships this spring

With at least four Division I college prospects on the roster, college coaches have been bombarding Oak Grove High School's spring practices.

Coaches from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, South Alabama, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and Louisville have made the trip to the Hattiesburg, Miss., school to evaluate prospects and, more importantly, get a chance to have a quick word.

For four-star wide receiver Robert Johnson, the evaluation period has enabled him to get to know some of the people he'll be talking to over the next several months.

Johnson, who has offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Kentucky and Tulsa, said "it's kind of way too early," to name a favorite, adding that the conversations he's having these days with the various college coaches are "all kind of the same. I've been calling some coaches too. I've kind of developed relationships with all of them. It's like we're trying to get to know each other. They want me to come check out their campuses."

On the practice field, Johnson said, he has spent a lot of him time teaching younger players Oak Grove's routes. In addition, his time on the gridiron has been cut short as he prepares for this weekend's state track championships in Pearl. Johnson, along with fellow football prospect Jay Hughes, is part of Oak Grove's four-by-100 and four-by-200-meter relay teams.

Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 196-pounder with excellent speed, said his summer plans remain unsettled.

"I want to try to go to Louisville during the summer," Johnson said. "I also want to go to LSU and check out that campus."

Among the schools that have offered, Johnson has what appears to be a very loose pecking order.

"Ole Miss stands out," Johnson said. "They're kind of the highest team in the state. It's Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tulsa right now. I like their offense a lot."

Johnson, who has indicated that he'll likely wait until much closer to National Signing Day in February 2010 to make a decision, said he wants to talk to Ole Miss coaches _ wide receivers coach Ron Dickerson Jr. is spearheading his recruiting for the Rebels _ about what his specific role would be in Ole Miss' offense.

"We haven't really gotten that deep yet," Johnson said. "The only thing Coach Dickerson tells me is, 'We're going to come get you.' I could probably see myself as a Mike Wallace in that offense. …Mississippi State telling me they'll use me like Florida used Percy Harvin."

Johnson caught 48 passes for 632 yards and added 31 carries for 276 rushing yards as a junior.

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