By LARRY VAUGHT
Speedy receiver Garrett Johnson of Florida considers himself a “playmaker” who is convinced he can continue to make plays at Kentucky.
“I like to get the ball on a 5-yard hitch (pass) and turn it into an even bigger gain. I am an electric player,” said Johnson, who verbally committed last week to sign with UK in February. “I like to make people miss, but I can take a hit, too.
“I used to play running back, so I know how to find holes in defenses. I can get yards on my own. I think all that comes with playing. I have always been able to catch the ball pretty good, but I am far from perfect. I still work to get better and better. But I can make plays.”
The 5-10, 170-pound Johnson, a three-star player, had other scholarship offers from Arizona, Boston College, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Marshall, Northwestern, South Florida and Vanderbilt. Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, North Carolina State and UCF also were recruiting him.
As a sophomore, he caught 58 passes for 1,014 yards (17.5 yards per catch) and 11 scores. He played both receiver and cornerback as a junior when he caught 49 passes for 685 yards and seven scores. He also ran for about 200 yards and two scores on 21 carries.
Johnson turned head when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the Florida State camp in June, but did not have a scholarship offer from the Seminoles or Florida when he committed to Kentucky.
“It feels a lot better to me knowing I am committed to Kentucky,” Johnson said. “When I came up there and got to see the practice field, indoor facility and stadium, and meet the whole coaching staff, I was sold.”
He was particularly impressed, and has been, with UK running backs coach Chad Scott.
“Seeing him in person again and kind of checking out the way they do things was good. Also getting to talk to the head coach (Mark Stoops) was really good,” Johnson said. “I know Coach (Stoops) is about defense, but he noticed me and after camp he said he thought I could play both inside and outside receiver. He had a lot of recruits at camp, but he told me I was definitely one that impressed him.”
Because of his relationship with Scott, he had planned to visit UK. Plus, freshman receiver Jeff Badet is a long-time friend and has spent the last two months on campus getting ready for his freshman season.
“I think I will fit in the offense very well. My high school team runs the spread, an open attack,” Johnson said. “I knew about Kentucky before they started recruiting me, but not much in depth about the team. That’s why I wanted to check out everything.
“I talked to a lot of schools, but when I talked to Kentucky they just stood out the most mainly because of the offense and my bond with coach Scott. That is why Kentucky won me over.”
He says “just talking” to Scott was refreshing during the recruiting process.
“We always had good things to talk about whether it was football or life or what I was doing,” Johnson said. “Just things like that he cared about. I could connect and bond with him. It seems like I have been talking to him a lot longer than I have. He is a cool guy. He was telling me what it is like to play in that offense and what it is like to play at Kentucky since he played there. That gave me more insight into what goes on at Kentucky.”
He felt much the same way about many of UK’s other 2014 verbal commitments he met during the July camp at UK.
“I could kind of see what those other players brought to the table. I got to meet quarterback Drew Barker and throw with him. I think he is a great player. He can really sling it. We have the pieces for a good offense in our class that really intrigued me,” Johnson, who may run track in the spring to help his speed, said.
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Johnson will join us on WLAP (WLAP.com) Sunday at 9:30 a.m. to talk about his recruitment.