College football coaches are already checking out offensive and defensive linemen Joshua and Jacob Johnson, twins from Geismar, La.
At 5-11 and 239 and 246 pounds, that’s not surprising except that they are only 13 years old and a few months shy of starting the eighth grade at Dutchtown Middle School.
Keith Ballard, a former cornerback at Mississippi Valley State who trains pro and college football players, brought the twins to watch the LSU Elite Camp.
“They must have taken their money out of their piggy bank, because when I turned around, they had forged the paperwork and had signed up for the camp and started doing drills with the rest of the linemen,” Ballard said. “I asked them, ‘What are you doing?'”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron kept a close eye on the two, which might come in handy if he’s still at LSU in six years.
The twins’ father, Herm Johnson, said he was a little shocked but not angry that his sons had signed up for the camp, even if they had to lie about their age to get in.
“These dudes have put us on a roller coaster ever since they came about,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. I think they have the heart and skill level to compete.”
They were born in New Orleans, two months premature and weighed only three pounds at birth and were placed in an incubator for two months.
“They were our miracle babies,” Johnson said. “They have three older sisters. I always wanted a boy and then God gave me two.”
They have trained with Ballard since they were eight. Joshua was named the top two-way youth (grades 1-8) lineman at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in New Orleans just after Christmas.
While their father, a barber who counts Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette among his customers, is stocky, he’s only 5-9. Fortunately for the twins, they have uncles on their mother LaSonda’s side who are 6-6 and 6-4.
Then there’s their appetite, which is prodigious.
“They are growing,” Johnson said. “Our grocery bill is high and my wife cooks every day. Right after they eat with the rest of us, they fix themselves a bowl of cereal or a sandwich because they’re still hungry.”
College coaches won’t be able to make recruiting phone calls to the twins until they are juniors in high school, but coaches have already found their way to Ballard’s workouts to see the two.
“We try to keep a small unit and keep them protected from a lot of people coming at them,” Johnson said. “Right now, I’m taking a lot of calls. I try to take care of that stuff on Mondays. I think I’m going to wind up getting another phone just for their business. I don’t want their heads to get too big or get relaxed, thinking they have it made already.”