Friday, September 12, 2014

Johnson stays patient while running through defenses

Stevan Johnson, a three-year varsity running back, walks onto the field in San Joaquin Memorial's 50-13 rout of Hoover on Thursday, Sept. 11 (Photo contributed).
Stevan Johnson of San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno hasn't opened any mail that reads "official scholarship offer" when he comes home.

Johnson, however, is using his fast start in 2014 - 419 rushing yards and 10 combined touchdowns in the first three games - to make him feel peaceful and hopeful about landing a potential offer soon from a four-year university's football program.
"I am very understanding that the recruitment process is a slow and steady process and colleges don't just hand out scholarships," Johnson said. "I've learned that I have to just be patient, keep playing hard and leave it all in God's hands."

So far, defenses have had their hands full with the 6-foot, 205-pound freight train, who's in his third varsity season and has 1,755 career rushing yards with 35 total touchdowns.

Johnson has wore down defenders by averaging 139.7 yards per game during the Panthers' 3-0 start this season. His latest performance saw Johnson pulverize Hoover with an average of 6.3 yards per carry in SJM's 50-13 trouncing of the Patriots on Thursday, Sept. 11.

He's quickly ran through open holes like a rock being released from a sling shot. Johnson's burst, vision and powerful legs have made him a tough back to pull down. Defenders are leaping at Johnson's ankles or bouncing off of him during his highlight films.  

Despite not landing his first scholarship pledge from a four-year school, Johnson has been on the phone with a number of college coaches and has received letters from schools in the PAC-12, Big Sky and Mountain West conferences. The University of Washington and Fresno State are among the schools expressing interest in the senior.

On the football field, he said that he's in "better shape" than last year.
"I feel like I have more knowledge of the game and I have more desire to win," Johnson said. "It's all hard work, preparation in the offseason and good blocking from the big boys up front. My running style is the same: the ball is high and tight, I run fast, run hard with a low pad level and I keep my legs pumping at all times."

Johnson has shown determination with some of his runs. He's driven tacklers backwards by keeping his legs going and has carried a pile with him. Those running traits are similar to Marshawn Lynch of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

Johnson has been labeled "the Marshawn Lynch" of the Central Valley by some spectators of the prep football scene in the 559. He's also walked around the Memorial campus with his fellow classmates showering him with praise.

"They've just congratulated me on my success this far. They tell me to keep up the good work and big things will happen," Johnson said.


What to like: Johnson has shown more quickness with his runs, especially when locating a hole and bolting through it. He does an excellent job of keeping his pad level low and never stopping his legs after contact is made. His receiving ability has improved thanks to his offseason work at Passing Down and the Pylon 7-on-7 tournaments. Johnson is deadly after the catch and runs with the same determination.

What to build on: I'll need to see his ability to pick up blitzing linebackers when he doesn't have the football. He also can continue to build on his speed because defenders have caught him from behind. He's not a speedster but most power backs aren't.

Overall: Johnson is a throwback runner. He's in the mold of Earl Campbell, Lynch, former Jacksonville Jaguar Fred Taylor and current University of Arizona running back Nick Wilson (former Central Grizzlies star). His receiving ability has helped raise his stock further. Johnson combines as a powerhouse back and receiving threat.

More on Johnson:

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