Stephen Johnson III on fast track
Working with Stephen Johnson III, it didn’t take NFA Director of Player Development Will Hewlett long to realize he was coaching a special talent. “He’s going to be a big-time athlete/player,” Hewlett said. “With his speed and athletic ability, he’s perfect for all the dual threat programs.”
Big-time college programs like Florida State, UCLA, Missouri, Arizona and Cal couldn’t help but sit up and take notice of Johnson during his junior season as quarterback at San Leandro (Calif.) High School. Not only did the 6-foot, 180-pounder pass for 939 yards and 6 touchdowns, Johnson also led the Pirates with 728 yards rushing and 13 more scores.
“As a quarterback, I would say I’m more of an athletic type player,” he said. “We run the Wing-T offense so I can basically run and pass, but it’s more of a running type offense. They put me in the shotgun to make it look different. We have good receivers on my team. A lot of defenses try to play man-to-man on them and that basically leaves me open when that happens. I can read and attack.”
Not only can he attack with his arm and his legs on offense, Johnson can also return punts and kickoffs. He ran back 6 kicks for 226 yards. “I have good speed and I just try to use that to my advantage,” Johnson said.
Need for speed
He’s actually being modest. Johnson has blazing speed and he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 10.82 in the 100. “I run track to make me a better athlete overall,” he said. “I love track but football is my favorite because it’s a team sport. It’s harder work and most people can’t play it because it’s so aggressive.” Johnson’s time at 100 meters ranks in the Top 50 in the state of California.
As college recruiters come calling, Johnson knows he might be asked to switch positions. “I’d say I might be recruited as more of an athlete, probably wide receiver, kick returner, punt returner or a defensive back,” said Johnson, who has a 3.5 GPA. “But I’ve been playing quarterback since I was 8 and I know I can control the game. I’m a part of the game at all times and I like that. I just like to play quarterback.”
Johnson said working with NFA has helped polish his game at QB. “I think Will is a great coach,” he said. “He put me through things and worked with me step by step. He gave me things I didn’t know and I couldn’t do and stuff I need to work on like my throwing motion.”