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Kyle Johnson Wins LB MVP at Nike Camp, Lands Army Offer

Photo Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack

JACKSONVILLE, Fl. – Although the typical high school football season is roughly four months long, football is a year-round sport for junior linebacker Kyle Johnson. Fresh off a state finals appearance in 2014, expectations are high once again for Bolles this fall.

“Honestly at Bolles there isn’t really an offseason,” Johnson said. “We have spring football then we will have two weeks off when spring football ends and we will start some workouts.”

With practice at Bolles kicking off and camps popping up across the country, Johnson has had a busy schedule as of late. Last week, Johnson earned MVP honors at Nike’s Opening Regional in Chicago amongst a contingent of talented prospects from across the country”

“I actually went to the one in Atlanta earlier,” Johnson said. “It was pouring the whole time, and I did not perform well. I was disappointed, so what I did was I asked my dad, “Hey, can I have a second chance at this?” He said, “Well you have to set it up, and if you really want to do you have to pay for it.” So I headed up to Chicago, performed and got it all done.”

This time around, Johnson found much more success.

“It went pretty well,” Johnson said. “Not as well as I would have liked. I just came off a week of playing football in pads the last few days, so I didn’t really have time to taper or additionally train the week before as much as I wanted to. I think it showed on my 40-time, but besides that I got up there and it was definitely better than my first go around.”

In Chicago, Johnson posted a 40.8” vertical jump and a 4.69 40-yard dash. Not his best time, as Johnson stated, since he ran a 4.52 at the Army football camp last year. Still, Johnson separated himself from the rest of the competition at his position.

“I think I have the 3rd highest linebacker score right now of everyone,” Johnson said. “It was 120.99. I got the MVP award despite there being a couple of 5-stars there, so that was exciting.”

At 6’1” and 216-pounds, Johnson shows the size to be an effective linebacker at the next level. Johnson currently holds three offers from Army, Air Force and Southern Alabama, but many more programs from across the nation are showing interest as of late.

“Stanford has been talking to me more than I would have expected, so that’s exciting,” Johnson said. “It has been a wide geographic range, and I’m happy in that because geography isn’t going to be a big factor in my recruitment. So Stanford, USF has definitely been talking to me. There have been lots of D1-AA schools like Furman and Mercer. Duke was here a couple days ago. I was talking to Wake Forest the other day.”

With a handful of schools remaining in close contact, Johnson is navigating his way through the recruiting process as it is ever changing. Just this past week, Army offered Johnson after his strong performance at the Nike Camp.

“Coach [Jovan] DeWitt is our area recruiter,” Johnson said. “He came up to watch practice. I had had some contact with him on Twitter earlier and he just gave me a call to offer. It is definitely a growing program. Coach [Jeff] Monken has proven himself really everywhere he has been. He’s a great coach. They definitely have a great future and that’s exciting.”

After attending camp last year, Johnson is quite familiar with Army and the campus at West Point. This works in favor of the Black Knights, as Johnson fondly recalls his visit.

“I have been on campus twice before,” Johnson said. “I was at their summer camp and we got to see all the different facilities, the stadium, the indoor turf, the outdoor turf and the weight room. Facilities are definitely one of their strong suits. It was impressive.”

Johnson also has a previous connection to Air Force, the other service academy to over the rising linebacker up to this point.

“Really all of my offers have the same story,” Johnson said. “With Air Force that was coach [Ben] Miller. I actually lived in Colorado previously before I came to Florida, and I had been on [Air Force’s] campus before receiving an offer, so that was exciting.”

Right now, Johnson does not have a concrete timeline whatsoever in terms of when a commitment may come. Johnson targets “anywhere between September and December” as a potential timeline, although he stressed that is subject to change.

When Johnson does decide it is time, he knows what will likely influence his decision.

“Academics are very important to me,” Johnson said. “I want a school with great academics and great football— an all around good experience. I want to be at a place that I connect with the coaches.”

Last year, Johnson had a prolific season at linebacker, totaling 176 tackles (107 solo), five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three interceptions (85 return yards, three touchdowns) and three punt blocks (one touchdown.) This year, Johnson is shooting to make another appearance in the state title game with Bolles.

Whichever school Johnson does decide on down the road will be getting a very driven and motivated individual that is committed to excellence on and off the field.

“Tough, fast and smart,” Johnson said of his game. “Like I said, I was disappointed in my 40-time but if you ask anyone, my coaches or my trainers, they will agree that I’m much faster than what that shows. Even though what I like to think about is even though there are wide receivers and running backs that are faster than me, but they aren’t that much faster. I have plenty of times on my film when running backs is breaking down the field for a 30-yard gain and I chase him down from behind. So I would say that I’m a sideline-to-sideline player, and that’s important from a middle linebacker stance. If someone does happen to be faster than me, I also like to say I’m the smartest player on the field at any given time. That just comes from watching film and we have a great Hudl system here.”

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