2012 Offensive Star: Avery Johnson
Pompano Beach (Fla.) WR talks recruitment with Tiger Rag
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
To many in Louisiana, Avery Johnson is already a famous name.
The former Southern University baller turned NBA player and now coach ripped up nets across the state before his namesake - a 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver from Pompano Beach, Fla. - was even born.
But ready yourself, Louisiana, because the next coming of an Avery Johnson to a Baton Rouge campus is set to make an even bigger splash.
Johnson the receiver, being the brother of new Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson, already carries LSU royalty in his veins. However, with his prolific game, Johnson, who Scout.com lists as the No. 9 wide receiver in the country in the Class of 2012, is set to write his own chapter in Tiger football history while staking his claim to the name Avery Johnson.
He was the first player to verbally commit to LSU in this class, giving Les Miles & Co. his pledge on Sept. 1, 2010, despite offers from a litany of top-shelf programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Nebraska, North Carolina and USC, among others.
For now, Johnson is doing his part to fetch more talent to join him at LSU.
“I’ve just been trying to help LSU to build this football team for the future and hopefully win a national championship,” Johnson told Tiger Rag in a recent interview. “(I’m talking to) everybody who I know that has interest in LSU. I try to talk to the top guys.”
Johnson, who in his sophomore year caught 50 balls for 705 yards and seven touchdowns, mentioned he talks most frequently with Thibodaux linebacker Trey Granier among his fellow ‘12 commits.
As for his communication with current LSU Tigers … “I talk to Russell Shepard and Jordan Jefferson right now,” said Johnson. “They just want me to come in and help the passing game out, stretch the field when I get there. Even though Jordan will be gone, Russell Shepard will still be there probably. They just want me to come in and help the receiving corps out and make big plays.”
And, like his brother before him, Johnson - who will be an early enrollee in January - carries a sufficient amount of swagger that he’ll do just that. Right away, too.
“It’s very important to me (to get in during spring practice) so I can learn the offense. They’re going to teach me some new things at my position,” continued Johnson. “I’ll be starting on day one. I promise you I’ll be starting on day one.”
As for the skills which would allow Johnson to be a candidate for immediate P.T., here’s how the player himself lists his best attributes: “Catching the ball, my hands, out-jumping the cornerbacks, getting open real quick and separation.”
While it seems obvious that Peterson would sing LSU’s praises (according to Johnson, PP7 said of LSU: “It’s a great place, the stadium’s loud, they’re going to treat me real good and they’re gonna prepare me for the NFL.”), Johnson indicated his older brother actually stays out of his recruitment for the most part.
Instead, LSU wide receivers coach and former Florida assistant Billy Gonzales has been the ringleader in making sure Johnson does in fact wear purple and gold one day.
“Me and Coach Gonzales have a great relationship. We talk about twice a week about football and life,” Johnson explained. “That’s my boy. It’s about family, and I’m a part of his family, so we have a good strong relationship. He can’t wait until I get there in January.”
That relationship is a big part of the reason Johnson is really excited about his future at LSU amidst heavy pushes of late from schools like Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The receiver admitted, though, that he will use this summer to attend a few camps and evaluate several other universities.
“I know I’m going to LSU’s camp,” said Johnson, “and I’ll take a lot of unofficial visits this summer to go see some other colleges and see what else is out there and what they may have to offer.”
Ultimately, Johnson does want to play SEC football, something the player feels will best ready him for the next level.
“You’re going against the best every week,” Johnson said of the SEC. “It’s like the NFL, where you go against the best, so (in the SEC) you’re preparing to play the best. Then, it won’t be new to you. It’ll be old. The SEC is like a mini-NFL.”
Johnson clearly grew up playing with one of the best in his own backyard. To separate from the rest of the pack, make it to the NFL and become the Avery Johnson in Baton Rouge, he’ll have to prove he belongs in that same conversation.
Editor Ben Love covers LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.