Champaign (Ill.) Centennial wide receiver Marquis Johnson is proving that last year, his first ever on the football field, was no fluke.
Johnson, who is ranked the No. 19 player in the country by Rivals100.com, is off to a strong start to his second season on the gridiron. College coaches and scouts tout his big-play ability and he’s done nothing to detract from those believers.
Already this season Johnson has made 19 catches and turned them into 597 yards and six touchdowns and has yet another score on a 34-yard reverse. That’s a whopping average of 31.5 yards every time he has touched the ball this season.
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Up next on Johnson’s Champaign (Ill.) Centennial High School schedule is Normal (Ill.) Community High School, a team that Johnson torched for 10 catches, 210 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.
“We’re just going to go out there and do our best and good things will come our way,” Johnson suggested. “We’re 4-1 right now and we just need to keep focused on the game. I think we’re ready for this game.”
The game is this Friday at 7 p.m.
On Saturday at 7 a.m., Johnson will board a jet and head to Austin for his official visit with Texas. It’s a visit he’s been anticipating for quite a while. Growing up, he says the Longhorns were always his favorite team.
“I don’t know exactly why, but there’s just something about Texas,” he said. “It’s where it’s all at to me. It’s Wide Receiver University.
“I think to become a great player it’s better to be around other great players. I also think the coaches there are great. I talk to them a lot and they just seem like good people. And the tradition is great.”
Johnson says the Longhorns are so far out in front of the pack that he may even elect to commit to Texas after this weekend’s visit, as the Longhorns host Texas Tech.
“If it’s right (to commit), you can’t wait,” he said. “I don’t think I should even waste those other coaches’ time. If it’s right, I will just feel it.”
When will he know if it’s right?
“Let’s just say that if I still have a smile on my face when I get back to Champaign, then I’ll pretty much know it’s right,” he said.
But other coaches don’t give up that easily, not for a blue chipper like Johnson.
Purdue offered a scholarship on Wednesday night. Michigan and Arizona are also involved. The Wolverines, according to Johnson, are the team he likes second most. He has yet to schedule any other official visits and says that he may not be doing so after this weekend.
“They’re putting me with Chris Simms all weekend,” Johnson said. “He’s the man over there, so I guess they really want me. I’m honored that they want me that way. I feel like it’s a little bit of a dream. I’ve always wanted to play there and it’s like my dream is coming true.”
Johnson’s dream may very well come true. And the eyes of Texas fans and the coaches are likely to be on Johnson’s smile. Assuredly, they want to keep him smiling on his visit to Austin this weekend and as he gets off that plane.