Donning a red Arizona hat and a white t-shirt with a blue Wildcat logo, Island Coast’s T.J. Johnson signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday, taking his talents to the desert to play for coach Rich Rodriguez at the University of Arizona.
It may seem like a big move but Johnson’s dad, Tony Johnson, was stationed in Sierra Vista, Ariz. at Fort Huachuca during his Army days.
“He’s kind of following in my footsteps,” the elder Johnson said. “We started this quest when he was five years old playing flag football then Pop Warner. It makes me feel old.”
Johnson will be featured at wideout, slot receiver and running back at Arizona, the only school to offer the speedy athlete that opportunity. He has been clocked at 4.36 in the 40-yard-dash.
“I think that put it over for us, we visited a couple schools, a couple came down, even Florida State,” Tony Johnson said. “I think this was the best deal for him to get on the field.”
Johnson verbally committed to Arizona in early January and didn’t reopen his recruiting process after that point. Miami, Florida St., Tennessee, South Florida and Maryland were all in the mix in the final hour.
Island Coast defensive back Vincent Green signed with Eastern Kentucky University as he and Johnson sat side-by-side on the stage in the school’s auditorium. Green will be joined at EKU by East Lee County defensive end Sheldon Fleming.
Gators quarterback Kurt Benkert was not in attendance; he’s currently enrolled in classes at East Carolina University.
Green was part of Joe Bowen’s first class of freshman when he took over at Island Coast in 2009. The emotion in his voice was palpable before handing the microphone to the signees.
“We’re going to have a total of nine guys playing on Saturday’s beginning next year,” Bowen said. “As a coach I’m very proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished. I’m very proud of these two young men as well.”
Island Coast’s Class of 2013 racked up two district championships, five playoff games and a regional title.