Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone in the past decade or so, since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. Still, the talent level across the board on the national scene has been about as good as it gets.
Things don’t figure to change anytime soon as the hype continues to build for this year’s games: Dec. 17 and Jan. 29 at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, also Jan. 5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and Jan. 14 at Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium.
To gain a better understanding about the rapidly growing direction of things, perhaps now it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward, the plan is to more closely examine the brand’s many alumni from all over the country.
This time around, Lonnie Johnson from West Side (IN) is the focus. A member of the Class of 2014, he lined up all over the field, had 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and was named Defensive MVP as West defeated East, 41-7, in the game at AT&T Stadium.
There were several well-known names on hand during the weekend, most notably Texas Tech commit Patrick Mahomes, also Auburn commit Kamryn Pettway, Cal commit Vic Enwere, Louisville commit London Iakopo and Rice commit James Mayden.
High-profile peers or not, Johnson held his own. And then some. Currently, he’s doing the exact same thing. The 6-foot-3 and 206-pound defensive back for Kentucky, in fact, will be in action against Penn State on Jan. 1 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl at 1 p.m. (EST).
This season, Johnson has started in 12 games, with one more to go and on deck. He had three tackles, all of them solo stops, in a 27-16 SEC victory over Florida. Seven weeks later, his day included four tackles, three unassisted, in a 34-17 SEC loss to Georgia.
As a junior, Johnson played in 13 games, starting the final five. When all was said and done, he totaled 41 tackles, three for losses, and a sack for good measure. Can’t forget to mention his five pass break-ups. Also on the resume were two blocked kicks with special teams.
Prior to, there were trials and tribulations. A one-time Ohio State commit, then Western Michigan pledge, Johnson took a different route before finally securing a scholarship with the Wildcats. The first stop along the way was at Garden City Community College (KS).
Turned out, Junior College was the best possible fit for him and he ended up as the nation’s No. 43 player overall in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, an accurate indicator of talent considering the tool takes into account evaluations of the major recruiting services.
The future is bright. A trip to the NFL Scouting Combine seems to be in the works. A selection in the NFL Draft is likely a lock, with talk about the first or second round. Regardless, the journey for Johnson essentially started with the brand’s All-American Bowl in Texas.