Two-way standout James Johnson (6-1, 180, 4.7) from Valley Center, Calif., quite possibly could be one of the best players from Southern California for the class 2009. He has the versatility and the ability to play wide receiver, safety or cornerback on the D-I level.
As a junior, Johnson led San Diego county with 1,582 receiving yards. He also had 74 receptions and 18 touchdowns from his wide receiver position. His performance saw him earn first-team San Diego Section all-CIF.
Though he didn't thrown at much as a junior, he still picked off three passes. The word got out about Johnson as he was a first-team San Diego Section all-CIF defensive back his sophomore season.
"James could be the best player I have coached in my 25 years of coaching," Valley Center coach Rob Gilster said. "As good of a football player and athlete he is, he's just as good a person.
"James is a well built kid. He's naturally gifted as far as strength."
In the weight room Johnson benches 250, squats 350 and power cleans 220.
Strength isn't the only thing that Gilster likes about his talented athlete.
"James has tremendous leaping ability," Gilster said. "I don't know what his vertical is, but he could probably get his elbows on the top of the rim.
"You can add track to his list of talents, James is an outstanding hurdler as well," Gilster said. "He was a finalist in our CIF meet as a sophomore.
"James is also a pretty good basketball player," Gilster said. "He leads our high school team in scoring averaging 20 points per game. He used to think that basketball was his game, but now he knows he's a football player and devotes most of his time his time to football."
San Diego State, Colorado State, USC, UCLA and Miami have expressed interest. There is no doubt that Johnson will have plenty more suitors when this spring rolls around and evaluations start in earnest.