Johnson ready to take on ‘08

Published 10:27 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

For Andalusia senior linebacker Nico Johnson had a good idea he’d spend his senior year of high school taking to recruiters, but he thought they’d be military recruiters.

Instead, Johnson, who is 6-foot-3, weighs 226 pounds and runs a 40 in 4.58 seconds, hears from recruiters for Division I football teams like the Unversity of Alabama, who’s been calling since his sophomore year. It was that year that the young man who planned to be a soldier realized he could be a player on a different field.

“My tenth grade year in high school I was hearing from recruiters,” he said. “That was when I found out I could play D-1 ball.”

Johnson said that the first school that he heard from was the University of Alabama.

“I heard from Alabama and then I went to camp the summer of my 10th grade year,” Johnson said. “Alabama offered me first. So, I knew then that a school like Alabama was interested in me so I thought, ‘hey maybe I’ve got a shot.’”

Alabama’s not the only school that would like to add Johnson to the roster. He’s also had offers from Auburn University, Clemson University, the University of Florida, Louisiana State University, the University of Southern California, and others.

On the media attention that he gets, Johnson says that he tries to put it out of his mind and stay focused on the game.

“Sometimes I try to forget about it and just play football,” Johnson said. “It’s really no big deal to be perfectly honest.”

Every Friday night before a game, every player goes through a routine. Johnson’s includes secluding himself from the rest of his teammates and relaxing.

“I come down to the fieldhouse during fourth block and sit around and try to relax,” he said. “Then, I’ll eat the pre-game meal and after that it’s almost game time. So, at that point, it’s really game-face time. I’ll listen to my iPod and go to sleep and try to be separate from everybody else.”

Johnson said that his relationship with his coaches is so close that they are like “father figures” to him.

“Every coach is a like a father figure to me,” he said. “I look up to every coach. We might have some bad days and good days, but still they are there for you.”

Bulldog head coach Brian Seymore said that Johnson is a one-of-a-kind player on and off the field.

“Nico, he’s a great player on the field and a great person off the field,” Seymore said. “He credits his family and mother and he is a respectful young man. He deserves all the accolades.”

Seymore added that Johnson has now fit in the role of being a leader on the team with it being Johnson’s last season playing high school football.

“It’s a pleasure coaching Nico,” he said. “He has been coached well. It’s best for the team because he’s formed into more of a leader. He’s more vocal now than he has been in the past. He has grown as a young man and matured.”

The most important thing that Johnson has learned while playing football is that being humble is the key to being a leader.

“Staying humble and this year to try to be a leader,” he said. “The past three years I haven’t really been much of a leader because I was the underclassman, but this year I’m more of a leader type.

“Also, to keep my cool because I have learned that if I lose my cool everybody else that looks up to me might lose theirs as well.”

On the season as a whole, Johnson said that he would take it one game at a time.

“It’s a tough schedule,” he said. “I played this schedule my ninth grade year. We’re just going to take it one game at a time, that’s all you can do in this region. It’s the SEC in high school football.”