Stephen Johnson is heading to UCLA after the Bruins coaching staff was able to win a pretty crowded battle for the athlete's signature.
Mike Farrell of Rivals provided word of Johnson's college choice:
ATH Stephen Johnson commits to #UCLA— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) July 9, 2014
The newest UCLA recruit talked about his decision via 247 Sports:
"I really like the coaching staff and the academic aspect. All of the coaches, Yarbs (Eric Yarber), Meat (Demetrice Martin) and (Jim) Mora made me a priority. I looked up the rosters and charted out academics and stuff and compared them last night and UCLA was the right place for me."
Johnson is rated as a 3-star prospect with an overall ranking just inside the top 500 for the class of 2015, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The outlet listed more than a dozen programs that offered him a scholarship, including several BCS schools.
Unsurprisingly, he wasn't a big fan of his rating:
3-star ? 😂 you guys are funny— Stephen Johnson III (@SJ_III) May 23, 2014
Based purely on his raw tools, Johnson is an outstanding athlete with plenty of speed and a very quick first step. 247Sports' Pac-12 coverage page passed along some of his athletic testing numbers from January:
The reason he didn't receive more widespread acclaim is the fact he doesn't have a defined position. He shone as a quarterback in high school at San Leandro in California but projects more as a wide receiver or cornerback moving forward.
He has the talent to make the transition to either of those positions, but it's going to take some time for him to complete the move. That, more than his dynamic skill set, is the reason his star rating is average and he didn't receive even more high-profile offers.
In turn, fans shouldn't expect a major impact from him right away. It wouldn't be a surprise if his biggest contributions early on come as part of the special teams units, where he can utilize that speed and agility to make plays while he becomes more comfortable at his new position.
What do you see for Johnson in the future?
It will be interesting to see if he continues to do at least some quarterback work as well. He doesn't have prototypical size (5'11", 180 pounds), which is why he's been listed as an athlete, but he did show enough skill to serve as an emergency option so the team doesn't have to burn a redshirt at some point in the future.
When you put it all together, Johnson is a very intriguing prospect because of the raw ability. Whether it all pans out over the next handful of years is very much a mystery, but getting him to commit now is a wise early addition.
All told, Johnson is far from a sure thing, but he sounds determined to outplay that 3-star label, and he certainly possesses the natural talent to make it happen.